I can cross “mini-road trip” off my bucket list! My feat came with some issues. I was absent for one of the worst colds Zade would have this year. I missed my kids’ foreign language performance and party. I didn’t make the fundraiser dish for which Kal forgot to tell me he signed up. Somehow I kept letting myself forget all the cleaning, planning, meal-making, and preparation I made so I could feel okay about leaving. I let myself judge me as a selfish mom who just left her family to have fun.
This mini-trip wasn’t only a way to see my best friend and feel renewed by our fireside conversations; it was a symbol for a driving adventure, yes, but it was mostly a way to add a characteristic to motherhood that I play with at times: liberating.
Driving on sleepy roads on the way to Savannah, I couldn’t help but wonder if the home owner on the other side of the acres and acres of land in front of it took as much joy and wonder of his residence as the person driving past it. Does he let the porch give him solace? Does the yellow grass remind him of infinite possibilities, or does he just look past it only to think of a life he didn’t have? Is he comforted by the openness, his mind feeling its infinite capabilities and his soul just wanting to join it? Or does the awkward highway in front of his home remind of him of where he hasn’t gone? It seems to me that it doesn’t matter the space or century; one thing never changes: we face our past with a palette of regret, pain, desire, longing, and, hopefully, hard-won appreciation. This is why cigarettes were born.
Driving is liberating, something Andrea said so well; it’s one of the closest things to walking down a path of memories, sporadic and randomly connected like the gravel and the pebbles alongside it. Driving long enough that your peripheral settles along the crisp brown branches and the proud green pines can create a beautiful tunnel where your mind can wander and work and breathe.
While driving I thought of confines I’d put on myself in the past. Having protective and loving parents came with the truth that I was 31 before I took my first independent road trip, for example.
Layla challenges me sometimes, and I love it. It may be subtle. She refused to bring me a brush today because “her hair wasn’t tangled;” she didn’t accept my recount of a story because it didn’t have all the details; she questioned why her brother gets away with running around in his underwear but she is encouraged not to do that.
I want my daughter to find strength in my mistakes and in my hopeful adventures. I want her to analyze decisions that I’ve made, specifically the ones I have a hard time facing today, and most acutely the ones that look selfish to an outsider. I want her to recognize that the strength I found to make those bold moves, to actually make it happen, is the very strength I want her to have even if I tell her to listen to me. I want her to be brave and strong. I always say this about my kids: I am in love with Zade’s mischief and tenderness, and I’m consistently in awe of Layla’s heart and soul.
Because I don’t want my daughter to just accept, because I don’t want her to just cater, I hope she’ll see beauty in my small victories, even if that means I couldn’t attend her performance. I want my son to find a partner in life who teaches him to grow and forgive and thrive and fight, even if that means I couldn’t make him soup that weekend; I want them to feel liberation in life, in friendship, in marriage, and in parenthood.
And maybe that just means I have to strive to find it myself sometimes.