Enjoy the Ride! The Parenthood Roller Coaster
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Enjoy the ride! Why do they always say that? Try not to puke or fall out seems like a more realistic sendoff. But yeah, I get it. Enjoy the ride is a little more pleasant. You slide into your seat, flash a grin back at the gentleman that just told you to enjoy the ride, tighten the seatbelt so hard that you start to lose feeling in your lower extremities, and then grip the bar until your knuckles turn white.
You close your eyes and say a prayer.
It all starts with that long line. For some the wait is excruciating long. Others speed right on through with a fast pass. And some find themselves in this line unexpectedly after having too much fun on another ride.
Whichever way you got there, the anxious nerves are all the same as you approach the beginning of the line. There’s a lot of questioning.
What have I done?
What did you do to me?
Will I survive?
Then the questioning turns into proclamations as you step onto the roller coaster platform.
I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this!
But you can and you do. You muscle up the strength to step into the car. Your partner faints and you scream at him to pull it together.
You are crying. The baby’s crying. Everyone is crying.
Then your heart feels like it leaps out of your chest as you slide into the seat. The same way it feels when you first hold your child and then again when she says “I love you” for the first time.
The ride starts off slowly rocking back and forth. Just like the countless hours you spend in that rocking chair. And you are wide awake. There’s not much sleeping during the beginning of this ride. And then again towards the end when your precious teenager breaks curfew.
But to your surprise the passenger next to you has dosed off. Is he unconscious you wonder? He must be in order to sleep through the blood curdling screams. You give him an endearing look and then accidentally elbow him in the side. You don’t want him to miss the ride.
You’ve started the first ascend and as the roller coaster slowly climbs, you close your eyes. But you peak one eye open. Much like you do when entering the bathroom after hearing the words, “I didn’t make it.” But it’s still there.
You are still there.
You feverishly start praying. For your kids, yourself, your partner and again for your sanity. You will do this over and over again throughout the ride. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep you from falling out.
Not quite to the top yet, you tighten that grip. Its school time and it is so hard to let go that first year. And as you approach the crest of the hill, you cry some more. But as a rider with a season pass, you start to loosen that grip. Heck sometimes you throw your arms in the air as you celebrate the return of school.
Everything speeds up as you fly down that first hill. You are screaming and laughing so hard that you wet yourself a wee bit. That happens a lot in the beginning of the ride. You peak over at the passenger next to you. Unconscious again. You mutter, Pansy, under your breath.
Then you’ll hit a curve and it throws you for a loop. No really, a literal loop. You do your best not to puke, but you can’t help but hurl once as you are cleaning up from the stomach bug that took out the whole household.
That curve left you a little beat up, because parenting is not always daisies and roses. Your back is aching now. You realize you are getting older and so are they. You wish you could go back in time as you flip the album page. Then sometimes you do as that roller coaster reverses to do the loop again.
“Nope we are good. Only one line,” you say as your partner’s face regains color.
Not the loop again. Everyone is screaming. You are screaming. Literally, you scream “shut the door” several thousand times over the years. And then “open the door” as your teenager informs you they are just doing homework. You think that you should go study with them, because you are obviously very stupid.
Finally the ride slows to a crawl and then stops. You step one foot on the platform still shaking a bit. Relieved that you made it. Your partner made it and is conscious again. You start to walk away and you say out loud, “let’s do it again!” “Are you insane?” is the response you get.
Some people do ride that roller coaster again. Multiple times. Adrenaline junkies!
There are many more curves, dips, highs, and loops along the way. A whole lot of laughing and crying. Many more heart racing moments. A lot of sweating profusely and praying incessantly. As the ride goes on, you learn to handle the scary parts with more grace. The dips make you appreciate the highs so much more. You loosen your grip many more times as they reach milestones, start to drive, graduate, and fall in love.
Eventually you let go and realize just how thrilling the ride was. One that you could have never designed on your own. The Engineer designed your course, tucked you in safely and then pushed the infamous red button. He laughed with you and at you. He cried with you and for you. He cheered you on and celebrated with you.
And then one last time, He put you back on solid ground. He held your hand as you entered this new territory. The one that is a little more peaceful. Definitely quieter and cleaner.
You sigh as you realize what felt like an eternity as you creeped up that hill; in reality went by way too fast. You are a mixed bag of emotions as you think about your new season. You are thankful, but a little sad.
And then you hear His voice.
“Grandkids. Lots of them.”
Now it’s your turn to give the parenting advice.
And you say, put your big girl panties on (Depends if you need it), buckle up, pray often, ease off the white knuckle grip, and suck it up buttercup.
Oh, and Enjoy the Ride!