Driven to Insanity

My son is 16 years old.

For those of you who do not have children, this number may mean nothing to you.  It may not strike fear into your heart.  It may not ignite inside your soul the devastating fear, the agonizing terror that lives in the heart of every parent.

My son is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

I stalled the inevitable by making the boy take Driver’s Education.  That gets you a break of approximately $0.00000004 on insurance.  (Incidentally, I think it is crap that insurance is more for a boy than for a girl.  So much for equality, right?) However, in spite of my many attempts to pretend that my children are still small, the boy is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

He will be able, according to the law of our great state, to operate a motor vehicle on his own.

(Who made these laws? Someone without children, I guarantee.)

I consider myself a very adaptable person.  In fact, it is one of my strong suits.  I’m not one of these people who get bogged down by the fear of change.  I laugh at those people.  Ha!  But someone I find myself ill prepared for my son to drive.  It isn’t just him–all of his buddies are also driving.  A few of them are older than my son and have already received their operators license.  A couple of them drive themselves to school every day. I still visualize these kids as the same ones who couldn’t tie their shoes without assistance, and they are out on the same roads as you and me, with no adult supervision, in vehicles capable of many thousands of dollars of personal property damage.

God help us.

The worst part of it all is that I’m not sure if I’m upset because my son is 16 years old and driving (and he is a good driver, very cautious and law-abiding) or if I’m upset because this is just another reminder of my own impending geezer-hood.

I am not ready for this.  I myself identify as a cool young person.  I listen to cool music and drive too fast (in a minivan) and have tattoos and all of the other stuff that makes people cool.  But how can I be a cool young person when a human being that I grew inside of my own body is now old enough to operate a motor vehicle?

Okay, I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ve been sly about it and pretended like it was about so many things that it wasn’t.  It isn’t really about my son.  It isn’t about him driving.

It’s about the fact that I’ll be 40 in a couple of days.

You read that right.  I will be forty years old.  Conceivably half way through my whole entire life.  If I’m lucky, that is.

I cannot stand to hear about people having midlife crises, especially men with the sports cars and the blonde mistresses and such.  But honestly, I have to seriously ask myself if I’m not in the throes of a midlife crisis right now.  Why else would all of this be hitting me so hard?  What other explanation is there that the contemplation of my life and the life of my son and his friends should cause me such distress?

I’m sure the wine has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, my son is sixteen years old, and getting ready to get his license.  No matter how much I piss and moan (and drink), time just keeps on slipping by.  I thought I had lots of time.  I used to complain about how slowly time passed.

I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  I take it back.  Just please, please slow down a little.  They can drive now, so let’s just take a breath.  Let’s take a minute to get our bearings.

Let’s realize how precious our time is, and how much we take it for granted, okay? I swear, we’ll do better from here on out.




Sometimes, Mommy needs a hobby.

I’ve written about this before, but sometimes when you are a mother, your life (and identity) get sucked up by your family.  Some days, it seems like everyone has something to do outside of the house besides me.  My husband has work, and his group of buddies that hunts and fishes with, and he goes to football games.  The Grandmother bowls and shops and basically does whatever she wants.  The Grandfather hunts anything that is in season, hangs out at the local “old-guy” hang-out, and also does whatever he wants. 

I’m much more limited.  I can’t just get out of bed and say, I think I’ll go to the mall today.  Well, I can, but everyone has to go with me, and that takes some of the joy out of it.  That’s a bad example–the mall is never my destination of choice without some express purpose.  I really don’t know what example I would give.  I’m not much of a shopper.  I’m not going to hunt or fish, and bowling holds about as much interest as a visit to the dentist.

I often say my family should be thankful that I am as content as I am.  I don’t care about shopping or running around or any of that stuff.  It really doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t need anything. 

For example, I love to read.  Love, love, love it.  I read every single day of my life without fail.  But it’s a very disjointed process.  I read a little while, then someone interrupts me.  Then I read a little longer, and then I get interrupted again.  And so it goes.  No one understands why this is so irritating.  Imagine watching a show that you really like, and someone hits the pause button every five minutes or so.  Then you have to wait a little while and watch five more minutes.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? 

I think this is why so many of us seem to lose ourselves over the course of every day life.  We don’t really lose ourselves–we just sort of forget that we are actually people, not just moms and wives and maids and cooks.  It’s nice to have friends outside of your own family.  It would be great to go to lunch sometimes and talk about something besides diapers.

Mostly, I think it has to do with being able to use your mind.  I find that my own brain seems to be turning slightly traitor on me.  I’m forgetting things more often.  Worst of all, sometimes it seems like I’m just not as smart as I used to be.  I always considered myself a reasonably intelligent person, but some days I feel like the only thing I could have a meaningful conversation with anyone about is how to wipe an ass.

There is hope, though. 

For one thing, as I am teaching my son, I find I am also teaching myself.  I am “remembering” things I used to know.  I actually find that I can do quite easily the math that I used to scorn.  I’m brushing up my grammar, which is by far my favorite subject.

On a more fun note, I am also increasing my yoga practice.  I have just simply made up my mind that I will make time each day to do it.  It’s challenging both mentally and physically, because I’m learning the theory and history of yoga as well as actually doing it. 

Best of all, I’ve started teaching myself how to play the guitar.  My son started taking guitar lessons, and I’m cheating off of him, plus I’m learning out of a book.  I learned to play one of my all time favorite songs by watching someone else play it on the Internet.  That probably sounds silly to some people, but it is so much fun, and again, it’s working my mind.  It’s not like I think I’m going to be the next guitar superstar or anything, it’s just something I can do that is reasonably cool (you know, as opposed to ass-wiping.)


I think that’s sort of the point.  You don’t do the things that interest you because you hope to get something out of them.  You do them because, well, they interest you.  It keeps you in touch with yourself, and the fact you don’t just exist for the sole purpose of taking care of other people.  You have to take care of yourself sometimes, too.  Maybe it sounds selfish, but I think you’ll find that if you do take care of yourself, it becomes a lot more enjoyable to take care of others.

Do it for yourself.  Do it for that young person you were all those years ago who had a list of things she wanted to try.  Do it for your family, because they will really appreciate the happier, more content you.  Most of all, do it for Clapton, because Clapton is a god.

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