Parenting Beyond Our Capacity

For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.  Expectant mothers should not ride.  

These words were glaring... at me as I stood in line with my three children, preparing to ride Expedition Everest on a recent trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I’d boarded this same roller coaster over a decade ago, back in the day when I didn’t meet so much of the safety criteria.

High blood pressure?  Yes.

Back or neck problems?  Definitely. 

Motion sickness?  Sometimes.

Other conditions?  Too many to count.

Expectant mother?  No.  

I sat with the reality that the only reason I should board this roller coaster was not being pregnant.   I contemplated wishing my children well, backing out of line and finding myself a comfortable bench near the exit where I could sit with the other middle-aged parents waiting to greet their respective little ones. 

Unfortunately, I know this type of uncertain moment in parenting all too well.  A moment of feeling ill-equipped, overwhelmed or unprepared for the task.  Driving my adolescent daughter to her first school dance felt every bit as terrifying to me as boarding this roller coaster.   In fact, I’m certain my blood pressure would have registered higher in that moment than it did being thrust 50 miles an hour down the side of Everest.  I’m certain I felt some motion sickness watching her walk from the car toward the front doors where I could see adolescent boys standing in a pack.  

Talking with my sons as they wait to hear whether they made a team or got cut can give me back or neck pain.  Looking them in the eyes and knowing it’s another moment in the life of a boy where you taste success or defeat.  Sometimes all I know to do in those uncertain moments is just show up, reflect on the truth of Romans 5:1-5, and pray to know when is the right time to speak and a time to just listen.