I love being a mom, but I have to admit that motherhood involves many unpleasantries (which according to my spell check, is not a word). My two least favorite things about being a mom are potty training and driver’s training.
Potty training was the single biggest test of my patience as a mother. First of all, it’s hard to know when your toddler, who can’t cross the street by herself, is ready to use the toilet. Some of us just hope we can manage it by the time our kids enter kindergarten. Potty training my boys, I often carried the faint scent of urine with me when I went out in public. But don’t get me started on boys and their bathroom habits. What girl would stand on the bathroom counter and try to hit the toilet from three feet up?
I always thought I would rather have a root canal than potty train one of my children. Well, I’ve potty-trained six children and have yet to experience a root canal.
Even though driver’s training is not usually messy or stinky, it carries the added hazard that YOU COULD DIE. I do not do well under these working conditions. I find myself pressing on that imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car and clutching the door handle with a death grip. I usually hold my breath and occasionally close my eyes, which is a really stupid way to teach someone how to drive.
The worst part about driver’s training is when the child actually gets his license and he drives around town unsupervised. I lie awake at night wondering if he’s using two hands, applying the three-second rule, and remembering my most important piece of advice: “Stop, stop, stop!”
There is a beautiful and touching song from the musical, “Children of Eden” with score by Stephen Schwartz. With an anguishing choice before him, Noah wonders what to do about his wayward son. He realizes that “the hardest part of love is the letting go.”
In Huckleberry Summer, Lily Eicher’s father has lost someone he loves very much, and he is determined to control his daughter’s life so tightly that she will never make a mistake, never do anything she regrets, and never be forced to suffer the consequences of her own bad choices. In the end, Lily realizes that she is living the life her dat has chosen for her, not the one she wants for herself. She finds the courage to break free from his demands and marry the boy she loves. We’re left hoping that her father will love her enough to let her choose her own life.
It is natural for us parents to want to protect our children from their own mistakes. We don’t want them asking questions we don’t know the answers to. We don’t like it when they make choices that we know will take them down a painful path. It hurts to know that they could have been spared heartache if they had only listened to us. Still, God, the greatest parent of all, gave His children the freedom to make our own choices, even though many of those choices have disastrous consequences. But He lets us choose anyway, because He loves us enough to let us go. He loves us enough to teach us how to drive and let us take the car out for a spin. At times we are reckless. We drive carelessly and crash, putting dents in the bumpers of our lives. But God loves us enough to let us drive, knowing we’ll learn from our mistakes and love Him all the more for letting us choose.
Thirteen years ago I graduated from potty training. It was a glorious day. One year ago my youngest son got his driver’s license. And even though I worry every time he walks out the door, I let him take the car and trust him to remember what he’s been taught. After all, he had a pretty good driving teacher, if I do say so myself.
Knowing all that, I still can’t resist. “Drive safely,” I say as he goes.
“I won’t,” he replies sarcastically.
He’s probably too old for a spanking.
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