Sitting back, holding on as parental roller coaster keeps twisting, turning

My stomach flip-flopped as the Ferris wheel began its jerky ascent into a cloudy sky. It was my first fair ride of the day. I told Eve I was nervous.

Secure in our wobbly car, my 5-year-old turned to me and said, “Mom, just hold on, sit back and enjoy the ride.”

A “from the mouths of babes” comment, so sincere and wise beyond her years, I had to laugh. I immediately thought about this ride called parenting, one I’ve been on for the past half-decade.

The bumps and twists and turns. The screams – hers and mine. My stomach flip-flopping from first-time-mom nerves, or blown-out diapers.

I’ve held on, most days. And for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the ride.

It’s easy to dwell on the frustrations and difficulties. And to a certain point, it’s important to acknowledge them, to normalize the experience for all parents. But when I rewind the parental ride, it’s exhilarating joy that flashes before my eyes.

My finger grasped by chubby hands. Slobbery baby kisses. First words. First steps. A second baby. A whole new slate of firsts for big sister and little brother.

A roller coaster of giggles and tantrums and cuddles and tears that’s come to pause at the doorsteps of an elementary school.

People ask if Eve’s ready for kindergarten. Undoubtedly. Then, they ask if I’m ready.

Most days, I reply.

I’m excited for her to start this new adventure. I know she’ll thrive in the classroom. I even get a little giddy at the thought of her being out of the house for longer stretches of time. I then feel guilty for feeling giddy. Typical.

There’s also this sentimental, teary-eyed part of me that wants the ride to slow down to a complete stop. To freeze my kids in their babyhood or toddlerhood or preschool-hood, whichever lets me keep them young and sweet and still fresh to the world.

Of course, neither of my kids sit still for more than 30 seconds, so the idea of freezing them in any moment is especially preposterous.

Like Eve on that cloudy day at the fair, running from ride to ride, making the most of her all-day pass. Begging to go on rides she wasn’t tall enough to try. Pleading for “just one more,” me giving in until it was way past dinner time and I’d missed a planned outing with friends.

Of course, even girls’ night out at the HoDo can’t compare to riding the Ferris wheel with my daughter on a summer evening. One of a handful left before we start a new chapter, a new roller coaster of homework and extracurriculars and peer drama. All I can do is hold on, sit back and enjoy the ride.

‘Hold on, sit back and enjoy the ride.’ And no real motorcycles until you’re 27, young lady!

Sherri Richards is a reporter for The Forum and mom to 5-year-old Eve and 2-year-old Owen. She blogs at http://topmom.areavoices.com 

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