I heard it long before I saw it.

Bearing down on me, grumbling and rattling my entire bike.

I felt my body go cold as I glanced over my left shoulder and saw the dump truck growing closer to me as I approached the top of the hill.

In complete panic, I quickly turned my handlebars and my front tire hit a patch of loose gravel and my seven-year old body was thrown through the air and into a massive, immovable tree trunk.

On a street where I wasn’t supposed to ride my bike in the first place.

And then everything went dark.

When I woke, my mother’s face was the first thing I saw.

The sharp pain in my left wrist and the raw skin on my face contrasted sharply by the soft look of concern in her eyes.

She wrapped me up, whispered loving words, packed me into the car and took me off to the hospital, where my broken wrist was placed in a cast and the cuts and scratches on my face were treated.

And we went home, where my mother, confident that I was safe and would heal, punished me for breaking the rules by riding my bike on an unsafe street.

That she took time to comfort me when I needed it and then held firm to her rules helped shape the mother I am today.

There are times when I see in myself that same ability to be both firm and soft…strict and kind.

And as I look at my children, I am so grateful to my mother for being my everything as a child.

For loving me unconditionally, but also teaching me right from wrong.

This parenting thing isn’t easy, but she handled my childhood with a grace that I can only hope I’m showing to my children.

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