Waiting for our new baby to be born feels like a trip back to my own childhood. Occasionally, my family would go to a ball game in Arlington, TX. Driving to the old Arlington Stadium meant that we would have to drive by Six Flags over Texas. Before the game, we would drive by the amusement park while the sun was still up. I peeked out the window and stared wide-eyed at the new attraction – the twin looped “Shockwave”. Introduced in 1980, the Shockwave was a marvel of construction in steel and took the rider on a fast, circuitous journey culminating in the gravity-defying loop to loop sequence that defined the ride. Of course, after the baseball game the ride took on a whole new identity, lit up in the dark. At ten years old, I was brave from a distance. I wanted to be the first in my class to ride the Shockwave. I couldn’t wait.
My dad liked to say, “Don’t let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird rear end.”
If we were obedient, my parents would take us to Six Flags about once a year. My sister and I really looked forward to it. Usually, we were able to bring a friend. I remember the first time we went to Six Flags after the Shockwave opened. I bounced from the car to the gate. I danced while my mom bought tickets. I ran through the gate nearly pushing over the ticket taker. I made a bee line for the new ride in a start and stop pattern as I responded to my mother’s pleas for me to “slow down”.
When I got there the line seemed to lap around the state of Texas. My mother suggested that we ride other rides and let the line subside a little. This just added to my anticipation. Finally, we got in line. We waited. We shuffled forward. We waited and shuffled back and forth though the mazes, up and back again and again. At some point in the two hour wait, I began to notice that the Shockwave was quite high and the cars moved really fast. I listened to the screams. To me, they resembled screams of terror more than screams of delight.
I began to freak out a bit.
From the car, the Shockwave seemed doable. With four persons separating me and the Shockwave’s car, I began to think of all the things that could go wrong. I mean, what if you fell out when you went upside down in the loops? What seemed so easy when riding the Shockwave remained theoretical, suddenly became real. My blood left my head. My saliva left my alligator mouth. I couldn’t spit. I wanted to get out of there. I looked around for an escape. This was too big for me but I got on, closed my eyes and gripped the safety bar with all my might. When the car came to a stop after it’s circuit, I wanted to get in line and ride it again.
So now with the baby only two days away, I have to admit the enormity of the situation. I’ve been thinking about all of the inputs that have to come together just right in the process to end up with a healthy and happy baby along with a healthy and happy mother. Every way in which our lives will become more complicated, more expensive, and more insane accentuates my hummingbird tail. My mouth is dry again but that experience as a kid has taught me that this is normal and there is really no need to escape. Fortunately, none of this depends on me. I cry out to the God in heaven and you know what?
“His grace is sufficient.” Sufficient for me, sufficient for the mother, the child, our family and for that little kid back in Texas who wanted to ride the Shockwave.