One kid into motherhood, Heidi and I made a pact that we would always be fun moms. Take-our-kids-on-adventure moms. Say-yes-to-life moms. We’d take a minivan spin on the Harley Davidson motto, and we’d “live to ride and ride to live” even if it meant our biker boots are mom flats and our bomber jacket is a pleather knock-off from Forever 21. Every time we set out on a Saturday to find a farmer’s market or packed up strollers to answer a call for spontaneous adventure–Orange picking! Lunch downtown! An hour drive to a cool hidden beach north of us!–we patted ourselves on the back and praised our level of commitment. Kids whined from the backseat, circumstances often turned hilariously calamitous and busy schedules aimed to make us weary, but we were in it to win it. And our kids were making memories.
And then we had more babies. And busier schedules. And less sleep. And though we swore we wouldn’t let our energy and enthusiasm for Spontaneous Trips to Far-off Places fizzle, it did. Naturally. Random itches to scratch spontaneity come fewer and further between, and when that “Hey, want to hop in the car and go explore?” text does make its way out these days, it’s often met with “Can’t, ballet tonight” or “Sooooo tired. Skipping this time” or “Wish I could, but so much to do.” I’ll admit, “I’d have to clean my car first” has become enough reason to shoot down a fun day.
So yesterday was a defibrillation of sorts, a revival of our dormant thirst for impromptu adventure and a return to some of those friendship/motherhood memories we used to have more time to make. We accept that life changes, but we also accept that busier schedules, more kids and–ahem–more active kids (not naming names) means we might have to try a little harder, extend our patience quota.
Earlier last week, a random “Hey, let’s go to Miami this weekend” was surprisingly met with “okay, let’s.” And then we actually followed through which is a lot more work than it was a few years ago. Packing two strollers and getting three car seats buckled in one van alone was almost enough to call it quits before we even left the driveway.
But we did it. Because we live to ride and ride to live, and ain’t no one gonna stop us. Except that group of kids on their bikes who realized that if they spread out, all thirty of them, across the entire two lanes of traffic to South Beach, there was nothing anyone could do about it. Yes, for fifteen minutes, a group of kids–probably none older than 16–rode their bikes, popped wheelies, flipped people off and held up miles of traffic. Even though Heidi rolled down her window and told them to–and I quote–“Get out of the road, you’re being disrespectful and you’re going to get hurt!” To which the largest one of the group had some choice gestures to respond with, let me tell you. I couldn’t help but satiate my need to positively reinforce so when we finally found a gap in the group where we could inch forward, I made it a point to find the one boy who stuck to the bike lane, rolled down the window and yelled, “Thank you! I see you! You’re being respectful and we appreciate you! You chose the right thing! Keep doing it!” Heidi later roared with laughter from the driver’s seat. Once a fifth grade teacher, always a fifth grade teacher. Also, I’m pretty sure when I finished my speech, he jerked his bike right to the middle of the street again. Whatever.
We still had fun.
We started out in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, home to over 70 galleries, museums and collections and notable for its street art, Wynwood Walls. The art is absolutely stunning, and the kids had a blast, their exploration made sweeter with an ice cream truck visit and rocks and tires that they could have climbed on all day.
I want to recreate this pink/yellow/black & white wall in my house. So colorful and happy.
Parched after hours of play, we hit a juice bar where the only water they sold was this fancy alkaline stuff. After Dash chugged half a bottle, Peyton read the back of it out loud, something along the lines of “This water is unpasteurized, may contain harmful bacteria, and young children and the elderly should not drink it.” I’m so confused.
We ended the day, after an hour-and-a-half drive that should have taken ten minutes because the Bike Boys decided to play Red Rover in the street, in South Beach. Our goal was to spend sunset on the beach and check out some of the famous lifeguard stations. But South Beach is rich with experiences and alive with color, and you always get more than what you come for. We happened to show up for the Art Deco Festival, which welcomed thousands of people on Ocean Drive, and weaseled our way through crowds to make it to the beach. Lots of bikinis and butt cheeks and dancing. That Will Smith Miami song?
“…bouncin’ in the club where the heat is on, all night on the beach til the break of dawn…”
Here’s an addendum to the song: Sometimes they’re bouncin’ it outside of the club. And by bouncin’ it, I mean bouncin’ them. And by them, I mean boobies and butts. And by boobies and butts, I mean ones that are falling out of the gum wrappers that are holding them. The kids were fascinated and learned some cool stuff about–um–creative expression.
The beach was grand though–lifeguard stations a total hit.
We finally packed up when it was dark and kids fell asleep, barely out of the parking garage, for the long ride home. As we left the strip, our windows rolled down to take in the lights and music and dancing, we retold stories from back in the day when we partied young and free in South Beach. That one time we stayed up all night. That one time I danced and fell off an amp. That one time I wore a crop top to the club. And then Heidi turned up the music–Madonna–and we rolled out of Ocean Dr. dancing in the minivan until one of the kids yelled, “MOM! Turn it down, please! We’re trying to watch The Croods!”
I wouldn’t trade where we are now with where we were then for anything.
We still live to ride and ride to live—we just have a messier motorcycle.