I now am the mother of TWO teenage drivers! If ever there was a reason to have grey hair~this is it! My daughter got her license last week and ever since then I have been reminding her often of the dangers of being distracted. My husband told me that while they were driving down the highway after her road test she was passing him a bag of chips and veered into the middle section of the road. (He really should have kept that to himself; I can’t handle the anxiety).
The fact is, being distracted while driving takes practice. Yep, you heard me: IT’s an ARTFORM to drive distracted.
Now listen, I’m not advocating that people should be distracted and not completely focused on the road ahead. But I am saying that there are times and people who maintain full control of their senses and multi-task quite efficiently while driving. These people….they are mothers. And not just any mothers. Mothers of small children. I suggest that they are, perhaps, the best drivers on the planet. Here is why:
Twelve years ago I had just had my 4th baby in 5.5 years. My son was in kindergarten and we had a few outings each week to the grocery store, church and school. My husband worked long hours and I was on my own most of the time. I became very proficient at managing the cries of a baby, toddler, preschooler and the questions of a kindergartner. Every day that we went out would inevitably result in someone needing something. Having kids strapped into car seats and short arms on all of them meant that I was the sole caregiver and able-bodied soother-picker-upper/scream-specialist/fight-moderator person. My arms became those of elastic-girl.
I could keep my eyes on the road, one hand on the steering wheel and find a pacifier buried under last week’s McDonald’s French Fries. I had super-radar imaging senses to know when that baby was going to spit up and needed a burp rag in front. I could open a Tupperware container with a sealed lid for someone’s fishy crackers and see them safely into the lap of said toddler all while navigating intersections, city traffic and questionable road conditions. I could answer the 10th inquisition of a tech-minded redhead while turning on the latest Veggie Tales Silly song CD. I was the master of my 4wheeled domain. And I rocked that ugly blue Voyageur like no one else.
We made it safely to every destination. I may not have followed every rule of the road or parenting. Things may or may not have spilled and never been cleaned up. People may judge and condemn but let me tell you something~ there is no one that can beat the nerves of steel of a young mother in control of her quiver. She may look like a frazzled mess of hair and disheveled clothing on the outside, but on the inside she is cool as a cucumber and knows exactly what she’s doing.
I thank God I didn’t have a cell phone/smart phone in those early years. We didn’t have iPods or iPads. We didn’t even have a DVD player in the van until 2004. Honestly, I’m sure I could have managed but I don’t really want to think about it. With all the laws and distractions that have evolved over the last decade I’m sure I would have been locked up a long time ago. And yet, I wonder. Watch any young mother with her brood and you will soon discover that there is no one less distracted than she .
I think it ought to be mandatory to have 2 or 3 little people under the age of 5 for driver’s ed classes. Can you imagine how freaked out a 15 year old would be with the screamers and whiners in the back seat? (and not a bad form of birth control too!).