A little reality bump. If anyone is interested in the day-to-day stresses and joys of a parent with a severely brian injured child and trying to keep hold of some semblance of reality – here ya go.
Sometimes I’m challenged mentally and physically to the edge of my limits as a dad and for some reason I continue these challenges on my bike. The hardest race I’ve completed is a 100 mile MTB race with 17,500′ of climbing with my *always* inspiring friend Jason, that took us 16 hours to complete. That race was incredibly challenging, but in some ways felt like a walk in the park and doesn’t even compare to some of my ‘harder’ days as a parent of a brain injured child. These parenting stressors help build me to a new level of strength while simultaneously ripping me apart and breaking me to tears. Primarily because I have no choice but to continue moving forward regardless of the current painful struggle. Dara and I do a pretty amazing job of balancing life with the difficulties and continuous curve balls that get thrown our way. We have nurtured a relationship unlike anything I could’ve imagined prior to kids. Love for our family, friends and life is at the highest level. Dara is so good for me spiritually. I think one reason I became a vegan is the awareness that life is a precious gift for every living and breathing animal and I don’t want to take a day in the sun or rain away from them.
We struggle with ‘family’ things to do because it’s so labor intensive to take Emmett anywhere. Just taking him out to the van is work. With a simple shift I view this as exercise to keep me healthy and try not to view it as work anymore – bring it! We have to plan his, water, food, meds, diaper changes, parking and the BIG mystery is we don’t know what mood he’ll be in when we travel yet alone get to our destination. We’ve made many attempts to include him in as much stuff as we can but this often fails or backfires and makes good intentions feel like shit. We’ve made attempts to do family vacations with Emmett but the activities and things that Ian and Kenzie are interested in Emmett could care less about and or physically can’t do them. This year we even tried to organize a small family trip without Emmett but we couldn’t get enough back to back nursing and aid staff to stay with Emmett 24/7. Finding the family balance is hard. Traveling is very limited or a crap ton of work and highly stressful for us. I’ve tried to create as awesome of a home space for Ian and Kenzie to play.
I think I’m writing this as my own personal therapy. If anyone is still reading, thanks! Yesterday I ‘raced’ in the Hyde Park Blast. I knew I couldn’t take everyone to the race for obvious reason mentioned above so I asked Ian if he wanted to come. Kenzie didn’t like this idea and she wanted to come too which turned into Dara really wanting to bring the entire family. Which turned into stress… which made my pains come to the surface that my family can’t do things together and can’t even come to watch me ride my bike around which I knew they all really wanted to. These feelings happen often and my conscience keeps me with my family and I can’t make it through the door for a ride, race or simply going somewhere with friends. I have to sense that my family is at a calm and safe place before I leave. Is Dara in a good space that she can manage Emmett. Emmett not having a good day pretty much dictates my sense of freedom.
After much hemhaw’n I finally left with Ian for the race and my stressed out feeling started to surface on my drive over to the race. I felt that I should share them with anyone that wants to read ’em and it’d be good for me to get them out. I got to the race in less than adequate time to get my number and I got a warning from the volunteer for showing up late. I had zero warm up and barely got my number pinned on. I didn’t do a good job and CJ helped me re-pin. Luckily, Nick Petrov was kind enough to tell me I still had my shorts on over my bibs. Getting to the race and seeing smiling friends / racers was awesome. As the race started I quickly remembered that I haven’t done crit racing in a long time. My intentions were to keep the rubber side down and finish the race. Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t mind wining, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen with my 2 year hiatus from any road racing.
I could here John Gatch making fun of me for my Darth Vader helmet and still having my saddle bag on. Scot didn’t use every moment to pick on me like Gatch. Still, I love both those dudes and the flavor they bring to racing is great. They’re high-quality humans and really fast! It’s really fun to be cheered around the course by people yelling your name! You begin looking forward to certain cheering sections. Especially when you’re at that point in a race questioning your sanity.
Somehow I manage to slide out on the tight 180 and find myself sliding across the ground into the Element Cycles tent and Kevin Severs. Kevin gives me encouraging words (which I can’t remember due to lack of oxygen) and I get up and roll over to Corey asking for a ‘crash’ lap. Corey is another incredible person that I love seeing at bike ‘races.’ He helps build the community that is so fostering to personal development – primarily kids cycling. I get back in the mix and try to say hi to Ian hanging out at the fastest part of the course and the bottom of the hill. I could never see him because I was dealing with people feathering their brakes going down the hill. Maybe my fat butt kept me accelerating by them at the bottom or they just didn’t know how to turn?! The race definitely invigorated all sorts of feelings and emotions that I’m alive. Combined with the challenge of keeping it all together. I did have one small victory of finishing the race without being pulled..
After the race I was walking with Ian and he asked me, “What happened? You were doing really good dad and then you weren’t? So, I started to pray for you…” This gave me such a wonderful feeling knowing that my family and friends are awesome.
I went home with a hop in my step. With a grateful attitude and a positive mindset, completing a race will elevate you even if you’re mid-packing.
In so many ways riding a bike parallels life. You find that balance that allows you to float like magic over roads, gravel, mud, dirt, etc… When met with challenges you summon the strength to push on through. Here’s to a bike and racing community that helps drive people towards physical and mental health. Here’s to friends and family that help all of us move forward and feel alive!
(Facebook repost from June 30th 2014)