Today Emma and I visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It was just the two of us, and we hadn’t been there long before I began questioning the sanity of that decision. Managing a 16 month old, her stroller and her varying moods all day by myself amidst thousands of other people in 90+ degree heat was certainly difficult. But we have been to theme parks several times before, so I kind of knew what to expect. I expected to sweat, I expected to have to carry Emma most of the day with one arm while pushing the stroller with the other, and I expected at least one or two total meltdowns. This blog, though, is about something that happened that I was not prepared for.
Emma loves carousels. For awhile she was content with just watching them, but as soon as she finally got on one she was hooked. She has been on the Disney carousel a handful of times, the Sea World carousel and the carousel at our local mall. At Disney the horses are big enough that I can sit behind Emma, and she has always seemed to prefer that arrangement. When she has ridden the other carousels and I’ve had to stand beside her, she usually ends up wanting me to take her off before the ride has even stopped. This is what I am used to. I am used to Emma needing me for pretty much everything.
Today I sat Emma on a horse on the Disney carousel and buckled her safety belt and then climbed up behind her. After just a moment though, she turned to me and pushed at my leg, stating firmly, “Nuh uh!” At first I was so shocked that I wasn’t sure what she wanted, but then it became clear to me. Emmalee did not want me to ride the carousel with her. I climbed back down and she gave me an appreciative grin. I couldn’t believe it. This was the first time that Emma has really taken the initiative and given a clear message of, “Let me do this on my own, Mom.” I wasn’t sure how to react.
Watching her holding on to the handles and proudly riding by herself was a bittersweet moment. I shared her pride and was excited to see that she was being independent and doing it all on her own (with me standing close by of course, just in case). But I couldn’t help also feeling a little saddened by the fact that my baby really isn’t a baby anymore. She is growing up and this is just the first of many moments where I will see that she needs me less and less.
Then again, she did make me carry her all day. So I guess she isn’t completely done with me just yet.