But what happens when you have nothing left to give?
We had plans to drive, to bring her tricycle she grew out of because she wanted to give something too, but plans these days don’t seem to align with life. We are in constant transition, from one house to the next. From empty house to full. As I loaded the dishwasher tonight of all coffee mugs and just two plates, I am closing out a solo weekend and adding in a lunch box and Hello Kitty water bottle to the top rack. It will all be clean by morning. Begin again.
We then had plans to take the train, but we were too late and they wouldn’t let us on with the one bike we managed. Because rush hour. Because we’re managing, just barely. So we walked. We walked to the bike shop to drop off a bike that’s been in the basement for a couple of years. A bike I bought before this kid showed up, when I was full of plans, plans that fit together nicely. A marriage, a house, a baby. Bikes for weekends. A dog to walk alongside the stroller. With cats to nap in the crib. Now those cats live at her other house where she spends half her time, with her other mom. The stroller was passed along to a friend. The dog is too old for long walks. And now the bike is walked down the path to be dropped off for a new life.
“Why are we giving away your bike, Mommy?”
“Because I don’t ride this one anymore.”
“But it’s yours!”
“I know. I like it, I just have another bike I use more and I want this bike to be used instead of sitting in our basement.”
“Yeah because now someone who has no bike can have your bike!”
“Right. Sometimes we get things we don’t use and it’s good to give them to other people who can use them.”
I texted a friend in tears. I told her I had to stop the monthly donations to our sponsored child in India, to our local food bank, I didn’t know if I’d have enough for groceries and the mortgage. She assured me it was okay. That we give when we can and sometimes we can’t, but eventually, I’d be able to give again. She reminded me that it’s okay to be in transition, to go into debt if needed, that I am okay.
But can you give when you have nothing left? These months of transition have felt a lot like nothing left.
One of the guys at the shop stopped working on a cargo bike to help us when we walked in. I told him we were there to donate the bike. Riley got shy and suddenly didn’t want to ask him all her questions she had planned on the walk over. She nudged at me, so I did my best to remember all she needed to know.
“Do you know where the bike will go? This is Riley and she’s curious about it.”
“I don’t know for sure, but these types of bikes usually go to our program in South America.”
“Do you know how it will get there? She’s wondering if it will be on a boat or a plane?”
“It will go on a boat in a big crate.”
Riley gasped at the thought of a giant boat carrying all the bikes. At age 6, she’s a bit possessive of her possessions. Perhaps more so lately, having two houses to share her stuff between. While she wanted someone who needs a bike to have it, she wasn’t so sure about giving them our bike. We went outside and she felt much better when she saw a big crate in the parking lot. We decided that the bike will ride in something like that to go on a big adventure to South America. Then she took my picture in front of it.
It’s just a bike, but it will soon be someone’s bike. Maybe it will be a bike that carries someone to work or school or for weekend adventures. When you have nothing left to give? You still have something to give. I still have something to give.
This year I am working with #MyPledge15 to continue the work Riley and I started today because a small pledge can have a big impact. My pledge is to support Bikes Not Bombs throughout this year by promoting their fundraisers and volunteering my time when I can to help load crates to ship bikes. Because these small efforts make a difference. Also because bikes.