My daughter is one of those kids who’d love to cannon-shoot herself into space. Luckily, that technology is not available yet; so instead, my daughter went retro and took me as close to the heavens as she could manage with her first ferris wheel ride this summer. It was 95 degrees, my thighs were sticking to the plastic bench, and I had very little faith in the people who had put together the machinery. My daughter was four years old and I could tell by how my husband was white-knuckling the baby stroller that he disapproved of her going without the three-point harness seat installed in our car. Parenthood is about letting your kid lead you out of your comfort zone. And it’s also about revisiting tired cliches, dusting them off, and letting them deeply affect your soul. It’s why we secretly tear up when we read books to our children before bed. Adults need the simple, pure-hearted messaging of cliches to offset the world’s insanity even more than our kids do. So I forked over two tickets to the high-school-aged attendant before my husband could formulate his responsible “no” argument, and we left him on the ground with the baby. I’ll tell you: getting the “50 foot view” on that ferris wheel was exactly what I needed.
Therapists and mindfulness teachers (and basically everyone who is trying to help us to not lose our shit) recommend finding space, making space, and holding space. My one-year-old has a NASA onesie that reads, “I need my space,” and it’s something I bitch about too. As a mother of young children, my world feels equal parts intense and mundane: please help put my socks on the exact way I like it…give me a warm bottle now!…oh no, we’re out of wipes again. I’m the family’s designated crisis manager, but sometimes I catch myself going into the fight-or-flight response mode myself. Does it really matter if we put the sunscreen on her left arm or right arm first? HELL-TO-THE-NO. But I’m supposed to respect her big feelings when they arise and hold space for her to process them. Frankly, it’s why I take really long showers (but these days, the one-year-old keeps banging on the glass door).
So there I was, sitting in a poorly constructed metal deathtrap, getting the 50 foot view. And I should tell you, it was exquisite! I oughta get off the ground more often. The breeze from the bay whipped through my daughter’s tangled hair as we went up, up and away. In the evening glow, we could see the outline of the quaint, northern Michigan towns along the coast. We waved down at the exhausted husband and tantrumming baby sister (who was pissed to be left behind). And as we rose above the town’s clock tower and reached the apex of the ride, time began to slow down. If I took a photo of the coast and added a sepia filter, it’d look almost like the photographs in the town historical society. My daughter could see that our natural earth was actually so much more fantastical than the loud arcade games below us. This little spot on the planet was here before us; if we take care of it, this will all still be here after we are gone. “You mean, we’re going to die?” she looked up at me, suddenly nervous. I shook my head and grunted. Is it lying if you don’t say actual words? “Oh honey, look at those sailboats!” I pointed in the distance. Whatever. I wasn’t going to let her father get out of that conversation.
The ride had begun and ended in the same exact spot. Nothing changed while we were up there, only my perspective expanded. As we slowly descended, and the chaos of the fair amplified, I held onto some of the peace I had found. My daughter was so gobsmacked by our rotations in the sky that she had completely forgotten about the dolphin prize (future ocean landfill toy) she had begged for pre-ride. She remembered when we got home, of course, and had a stratospheric meltdown. But then, I just visualized us floating over the town again. It was easier to breathe. I had finally had found a little space. Turns out those tatted up yoga teachers really know what they’re talking about.
Ellie Knaus is host of Atomic Moms podcast, a modern parenting podcast featuring world class experts, bestselling authors, and moms around the world. To listen to the podcast, please subscribe HERE and follow us @atomicmoms.
You can listen to Nikki and Jen’s episode HERE.