Part of parenthood means giving up control and letting go: never losing sight of our children, but loosening our instinctive grip. It’s daunting and exhilarating at the same time, but it’s a necessary component of being a mom or a dad.
Recently, Maya experienced her first amusement park-type ride — a Ferris Wheel — at Luis’s company picnic (which is really a full-blown carnival complete with a mobile petting zoo including kangaroos, monkeys, a baby zebra …., lots of blow-up rides, games, food booths, and even some real rides … it’s insane!).
As soon as we arrived, she couldn’t take her little eyes off the kiddie Ferris Wheel. We thought we’d ease into it by letting her try going through the big caterpillar tunnel — on ground level — but after taking off her shoes and waiting in line 10 minutes, and asking us every 30 seconds if it was her turn yet, she got to the entrance … and backed out. I tried gently coaxing her but she wasn’t having any of it. I didn’t want to traumatize her, so I let it be, figuring she’s only two … there will be plenty of other opportunities to push her.
Well, apparently, she had her sights set on bigger and better things — and was about to prove me very wrong. “I wanna go on THAT,” she said, pointing at the Ferris Wheel.
So we made our way over and again waited in line, fully expecting her to back out yet again. To our shock and pleasant surprise, she did not! She got on with two other girls and they all held on tightly to the safety bar, and they took off.
My heart was in my stomach watching her go up, up, up as each child was let off and another let on. But even when stopped at the tippy top, she didn’t look scared. And once the ride got going and once she got into it, she was totally digging it, smiling, waving …
Clearly she loved it because when the ride ended, she asked to go on again! We told her how proud we were, let her ride again, and then went to do some other activities — before giving her one last hurrah on the way out.
In total, she rode three times — each time with kids she didn’t know, without Mommy or Daddy there to help her. There was something so powerful about this experience; we let her go … and she “flew” … literally at a place I couldn’t step in, even if I’d wanted to.
The timing couldn’t be more appropriate; this little spurt of independence right before Baby Brother comes. I have no doubt she will be a great big sister but I also am not crazy enough to think this whole new baby situation won’t throw her into a tizzy … her whole little world is about to be rocked and there’s a part of me that struggles with that; a sense of guilt that she won’t be our sole focus anymore. But then I think of my special relationship with my own siblings, and then am overwhelmed with excitement for what’s to come for her — and for him.
I don’t expect this transition to be easy for any of us, but for the past two and a half years, she’s been taking steps towards new levels of independence by the day.. And I believe she will continue to make strides, making us proud every step of the way.
Like a Ferris Wheel that goes around and around, it’s nice to know that — at the bottom — we’ll always be there waiting for her, should she need us. But the ride of life is hers and hers alone to take … with us cheering her on from the sidelines.