Saturday, May 23, 2020

Control: A Mom's Struggle

The first year that I taught my child to drive was the year that I really learned to fear for my life.

She was nervous about the cars driving toward her, and so she hugged the right side of the lane.  And  when I say "hugged the right side of the lane," I really mean "made the blackberry bushes fear for their very lives."

I would sit in the passenger seat, my hand clutching the door handle with white knuckles, muttering, "Bushes...  there's bushes... IN the lane.  IN the lane.  Drive IN the lane. OH MY GOD YOU ARE GOING TO HIT THAT MAILBOX!!!!!!!!!"

Here, I had entrusted this giant vehicle that I knew very well could become a killing machine into the hands of a child who could barely ride a bike without running it into a ... well, a bush.  It was genuinely the scaredest I've ever been in my life.  After 30 years, I began to understand why, in my view, my dad was the worst driving teacher in the history of the world.  Maybe he wasn't the worst driving teacher in the history of the world -- maybe he was just FRIGHTENED FOR HIS LIFE.  

I genuinely didn't think I'd be that afraid ever again.

But, I was wrong.

I'm beginning to understand that teaching your child how to drive... entrusting her with your car and relinquishing control of the wheel to a mere teenager... It's a test run.

It's a test run in learning to let go of the wheel. It's a test run in NOT being the one in control. It's a test run in trusting them to make choices and live with the consequences.

Because there will come a time... not too long after they've learned to drive the car... when you will have to step out.  There will come a time when you will have to relinquish control to a young adult, and you will have to trust her with... herself. You will have to let them make their own stupid decisions, even when your mom heart wants to scream at them to get back in the damn lane and stop aiming at mailboxes.

And, as it turns out, it is far more frightening to trust them with THEMSELVES, my most prized possessions, than it ever was to trust them with the car.