I-65, the HOV lane. Rush hour. The windows were down on the Jeep in spite of the chill in air. We were on our way home after the cross country finals in Nashville and well…middle school sports motivate moms to keep the windows down even as fall descends and winter threatens to creep in on her coat tails.
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Our stomachs grumbled. Traffic was heavy. My baby girl was in pain after coming in dead last for her team as she ran with multiple injuries. My phone buzzed again and again with texts from home that I couldn’t even read, much less answer, as I drove.
Nah, because I remembered the best parenting lesson my Mom ever taught me.
When your kids look back, what picture of you do you want them to see? Do you want them to see a stressed out, angry mom or do you want them to remember a little bit of fun?
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, the child of a preacher. What exactly did my mom have to work with when it came to ridiculousness, hilarity…pure fun?
She was often at home alone with the three of us on that mountain as my Dad went about his pastoral responsibilities. We didn’t have much money. Besides, it was a small mountain town. There was no trampoline park, or laser tag. We didn’t even have fast food places that I remember and if we did, I doubt we could have afforded it.
The mountains were glorious. We could have explored those, I guess but…Mom was a survivor of the polio epidemic. Just caring for us each and every day took all she had.
Our black and white television only picked up a few channels with the help of an antenna affixed to the top of the house and one of those rabbit ear thingys we had to adjust just right so that we could watch Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. We played outside a lot but when that grew old, what did Mom do to show us a good time?
She pretended to be an insane, out of control race car driver when she was behind the wheel of the car as she drove us around our small mountain town.
And we thought it was a riot. The absolute best.
Mom The Crazed Race Car Driver taught me so much. She taught me that no matter how hard life was, no matter how little one had, that there was always room for joy.
But most of all…She taught me that no matter how difficult it was to care for my brothers and sisters and me with her broken body and limited resources, that we were not, for even a minute, a burden. We were, in fact…
The absolute light of her life. Her delight.
Last night I remembered my mother’s lesson well.
It was just me and my baby girl barreling down the HOV lane, the windows down on the Jeep, and some sweet tunes turned up way too loud. One hand on the wheel. Both of us with one thumb up for a microphone.
Carpool Karaoke, baby.
“We were so good,” she said later over a subpar dinner that had cooked in the crockpot a little too long.
“Oh, my gosh,” I retorted, “What about our dance moves?”
“We slay,” she said.
“We slay,” I said.
“We slay…” She smiled.
It was the best parenting lesson my Mom ever taught me.