I’m standing in the hallway watching my wife tiptoe into our oldest son’s room. Her hair almost glows from the deep gold light of the Minecraft lamp on the dresser. She leans low, one hand pulling her hair away from her face while the other steadies on the edge of the bed. As she bends to kiss his rosy cheek, I stand in awe. It’s a beautiful moment. A mother expressing her affection for a son who is completely unaware.
Twenty minutes before this sweet moment I was exasperated. I had spent the better part of an hour arguing with a six-year-old about bedtime. No matter what time our routine begins, it inevitably goes off course. Bargaining for more snacks, one more video game, more time playing Legos, additional bathroom breaks, and of course at least one attempt to sneak from his bed into the living room and hide behind the sofa unseen, all bring the bedtime routine from a relaxing wind-down to an all-out battle.
There is a roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas called The New Texas Giant. Before it was known as The New Texas Giant, it was simply The Texas Giant. “New” was added to the moniker in 2011 when the enormous coaster underwent a remodel, replacing the old wooden tracks with steel. I was fortunate enough to ride the coaster before the remodel. The coaster was boisterous, to say the least. As the car ascended the first hill, chains clanked, wooden beams creaked and the car shook violently. The wild ascent would culminate in the car reaching the top of the first hill and stopping for a split second before smoothly gliding down the hill at breakneck speed. After a few moments of flying effortlessly down the track, the coaster would turn violent once more. It would shake, rumble and roar as it attempted to climb hill after hill only to glide silently and smoothly down each hill.
There are moments as a parent when I feel my world is shaking violently. Kids scream, argue, and fight. They are messy, stubborn, irrational and loud. Some moments I wonder why I got on the rollercoaster, to begin with. Then, there are moments like last night. Moments when the ride is smooth and my face is plastered with a smile. Moments when I forget about the commotion, the noise and I am reminded of why I took this ride.
I hope in the crazy moments, the loud, boisterous, annoying moments, I remember how worthwhile it all is. I hope I can remind myself of the smooth descent ahead. I hope I remember that, eventually, the ride will be over and not only will I miss those smooth moments of quiet joy, but I will miss the loud, wild, world-shaking moments as well. Because eventually, wooden coasters become steel, children become adults and I become too old to ride the roller coaster.
“How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” – Fred Rogers,