“Mommy, I want to go by myself this time.”
Every parent hears it and I think every parent feels their heart break slightly. My heart broke at my favorite place on the planet Earth, Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire.
I have already told my husband I want my ashes to be sprinkled there when I pass.
The park is huge and combines all of the things I love in one place. Rides, water slides, sweets and CHRISTMAS!!
Where else can you see kids jumping in water fountains while listening to “Winter Wonderland” at the same time?
The rides and attractions are so family friendly that my two year old daughter could ride on all of them, as long as she was with one of us.
It’s impeccably clean and the staff is incredible.
I always cry a little when it’s time to go. I know, there’s something seriously wrong with me.
But this time, there was more to cry about. My son took another tiny step of independence and I found myself doing the delicate dance of joy and sadness.
Why does it always happen to me? There are moments during the day when I beg for them to be able to do more for themselves.
I really wish everybody in the house could just wipe their own butts or at the very least put their own shoes on.
I pray for the day… every day.
But then I get sad when the day actually comes when they say they can do it.
It goes right back to the parent keeping his or her head down. Putting on the shoes and wiping the butts day after day after day, until one day… it stops. It can be a shock adjusting to the new normal.
My new normal happened, like I said, right there at Santa’s Village, at the water park section called “Ho Ho H20”, to be specific.
I was climbing up the big structure with my son. It has two water slides, cargo netting and water cannons on every corner. At about the five minute mark, an enormous bucket of water dangling over the top tips, sending about a hundred gallons of Ho Ho H2O crashing down on top of people. This is the part my son hates. It’s pretty terrifying.
Last year, I did this whole structure with him. I went down the slides with him and used my body as a shield when the bucket would start to tip.
I was ready to do this all over again. I was excited. I knew what my job was at Ho Ho H2O. Waterslide companion, bucket body shield. My head was down, here we go.
We get to the top of the structure where Henry’s favorite slide is, I’m ready to lift him onto my lap and he turns to me and says,
“I want to go by myself, Mommy.” And right then, my heart leapt and broke at the same time.
My son was getting older. He had self confidence. He knew he could do it on his own. Heart leaping.
My son was getting older. He no longer needs me for his courage or to protect him right now. Heart breaking.
He went down the slide. I saw his little smile get huge and disappear around a bend. I rushed down to meet him and found him proudly standing by the side of the slide saying,
“I did it all by myself! I want to go tell Dad!”
I followed him over, watched him jumping up and down in the water as he told Andy about his amazing solo ride.
I stood half wondering what my place in the universe was. With Andy watching my daughter and Henry wanting to do this for himself, what purpose did I have.
Then Henry came over, took my hand and said,
“I want to do it again! But will you come with me in case the bucket comes down?”
Bucket body shield. I still have a place.
I know this is such a small thing, my son wanting to ride the water slide alone. But as he and Wren get older there will be bigger and better things they’ll want to do without Andy or I.
I even know the days of being a body shield literally and figuratively will end.
But my place must always be adjusting to the new normal and being their if they’re still a little afraid of the bucket tipping.