It made me queasy just to look at it.
But there she stood with that look. You know, the look. That wide-eyed, pleading expression that reduces normally rational parents to spineless blobs of jelly.
Molly, 10 at the time, was desperate for me to join her on an amusement park ride called the Sidewinder.
Molly: Mom, please, please go on it with me just once. I know you’ll like it. I promise!
The Sidewinder … A serpent. How ironic. This was exactly what got Eve into all that trouble. It would be biblical to keep my distance. Can’t argue with that.
Molly wasn’t buying it.
Molly: If you don’t like it, you’ll never have to go on it again.
Yep. Death would take care of that, Child.
This mechanical devil -- shaped like a giant tire swing -- spins as it flings you, legs dangling, in a nearly 360 degree, death defying arc.
Barf bag, anyone?
I’ve always loved rides, still enjoy a good roller coaster. But I cannot do rides that spin. Anything that causes me to relive my horrendous bouts with morning sickness is not my idea of big fun. My “ride ‘til you wretch’ days are over. Kaput. Done.
Amazing what a pair of big brown eyes belonging to one of your darling offspring can do to your resolve.
Me (heart pounding wildly): Okay, I can’t look at any more. If we’re going to do it, let’s go before I come to my senses.
(I should have swam with the sharks first. This would have seemed like nothin’.)
A park worker too young to grow facial hair was our cracker-jack safety enforcer. Somehow having Opie check my harness straps wasn’t instilling a lot of confidence.
I closed my eyes, braced myself and prepared to meet my Maker. Or puke. One or the other.
It started slowly. No nausea yet. A few moments later, to my surprise, I began having -- dare I say it? -- fun. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. In fact, it was a darn good time. I actually ended up riding it two more times before the day was done. Voluntarily.
Fear. It’s such a paralyzing, joy-robbing emotion. Sure, there’s healthy fear, but most of us are far more adept at channeling the nail-biting, ulcer-inducing kind. Especially as parents.
Now that my kids are older, I can look back and realize how often I allowed my fears of what “might” happen -- all the “what ifs” -- to suck the joy and pleasure out of just enjoying the moment. When I’m not careful, I still do.
And then the moment is gone. Never to be recaptured.
The funny thing is, most of the things that have kept me up at night over the years have never happened. And the ones that did, God often used to cause me to grow a little -- sometimes a lot -- as a person and a parent. The kids learned a thing or two from them as well. Even the really painful ones -- like when Micah was diagnosed with a disease called cystic fibrosis. Maybe especially those. I've witnessed God's faithfulness and it's made me less afraid. He can be trusted, even when I don't understand His methods.
None of us knows the future. That shouldn’t, however, ruin the present. Moments with our kids are too precious to squander.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (New Living Translation)