Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Life is a Roller Coaster
If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past 40+ years, it’s that life is a roller coaster. You have your highs and your lows, your peaks and your dips, your curves and your straight-aways. Every day is different so buckle up and hold on because it isn’t for the faint of heart.
Anyone with children knows that life with kids is one long, continuous roller coaster ride. They have their ups (they were just invited to a great party or got an A on their latest test) and their downs (they were the “only one” not invited to someone’s house, or they didn’t make a team).
When these events happen, I remind them (and myself) of my little adage: Life is like a roller coaster. I have repeated that saying so many times that even my dogs could recite it. I know that what comes up, must come down. I know that life always gets better. I KNOW all this. So if I know this, why do I climb into that car and ride that rollercoaster with them every time?
Why do I still feel a pang when I look on Instagram or Facebook and see a group of my children’s friends together without my child there? Why does my heart break when I hear my daughter talk of a sleepover that she isn’t invited to?
Why? Because no matter how often my brain hears me saying, “Life is like a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs,” my heart hates those downs when they are happening to my children.
I know adversity builds character and strength. I know that not everyone is invited to everything. I know that life isn’t always fair. But here’s the thing, and it’s a biggie, knowing something and believing and accepting it – all the time - are two totally different things.
It hurts to see your children hurt. It hurts to see that look of disappointment or fear on their face as they come down from that high.
I recently heard someone talk about something that helps ease the pain of those downs. They call them back-pocket moments. I love this idea. Back-pocket moments are those times when something goes really well; when life is good – really good. You know the moments: you just got your first job; the boy you like asked you to Prom; you aced the test you studied for all night. When my kids come home and tell me something that they are really happy about or proud of, I tell them to “put it in their back pocket” so they can pull it out and remember that feeling when life isn’t going well.
Because we all know that, as good as everything might be right now, life changes in an instant. That roller coaster doesn’t stay up continuously. But isn’t that what makes the ride so much fun – those crazy twists, turns and drops? And isn’t that what makes life so interesting?
So I’ll remind myself of these back pocket moments, and I will try and stay off that roller coaster that my kids will be riding. They are “tall enough” now to ride it alone. I will stay on the ground and smile, wave and encourage them as they go up and down, and be there for them when they get off, to give them a hug or a high-five, depending on what they may need.
I will remind them that they will experience many ups and downs in life so buckle up and hold on because they’re in for a great ride.