Parent Driving Panic

Many years ago, on a quiet weekday afternoon, I was exhausted with sleep-deprivation, having a two year old toddler girl and a five year old son who had just started kindergarten.

My daughter went down for a nap. I rushed around picking up things off the floor then making my way to my bedroom to lie down, for just a little while.

This unusual day…I fell asleep in the silent house. The phone never rang, I didn’t get involved in some project, I didn’t start paying bills.

I woke with a start and sat up. The afternoon light didn’t look right.

Because normally, I have to get my daughter in the car and go fetch my son at school when the light is still bright, mid-afternoon light. My son comes out at a set time every day. There’s a spot for parents in cars. Some days, I carpool or other parents drive.

But Thursdays, I always go get my son.

In the very still, dense, quiet afternoon…I grasp that I had fallen asleep.

OMG! What time is it??!!

I was supposed to be there NOW. It would take me 30 minutes to drive there.

Have you ever driven from here to there filled with anxiety because you absolutely have to be there already?

I wish I had The Work or a way to have investigated what was true and what was not true at that time, with my small children.

Back then, I thought it was an EMERGENCY that I was so late.

My son Ben was only 5, he didn’t have a cell phone, I had no way to contact the teacher, I didn’t even know how to contact the school when the bell had already rung.

I put myself in my son’s little shoes and knew he would probably go to the pick up place and stand there.

My hand gripped the wheel and images reeled through my head of him being led away by an unsavory adult…of him crying as all the kids and buses and teachers left him standing alone….of him being abandoned.

I was sick to my stomach, in heavy thick traffic. Every driver went at the pace of a turtle. My heart was popping out of my throat.

Turning the corner into the sight of the pick up area, I saw his little purple coat, and him standing with his hood up, very still, both hands to his sides with his yellow lunch sack in one hand and his back pack that looked enormous on his small back.

I jumped out of the drivers seat of my car and I’m sure my face looked wild with apology.

Ahhh yes, if only I had The Work.

Because when I look back, my son Ben was actually PERFECTLY FINE.

He wasn’t maimed, injured, desperate, frightened.

I asked him “Were you worried? I am so, so, sorry. Mommy is so, so sorry.”

A little worried mommy. 

I look back and see the teaching and the learning, passed along so innocently. 

Now is the moment to think you were abandoned, that mom was unreliable, that you were let down….that mom is very sorry…and now that I’ave arrived you discover all is well, and you are relieved.  

Who would I be without the thought that falling asleep, not waking up, being late, that Ben standing alone for 25 minutes without me picking him up….was terrible, was all my fault….and was all something I should have avoided and that he hated?

Now it’s 15 years later. I still think about that moment with sorrow. Except NOW, today, as the image flashes through my mind….I pause.

I say “Is that all true?” 

No. No idea.

Was that a dangerous situation? Not really. Was it outrageous that I was so unreliable? No.

Who would you be without the thought that you need to GET THERE NOW, and it appears….you can’t.

Even if the situation is much more serious or critical than mine.

You might actually be present during the drive, instead of so freaked out that all you remember is the gripped steering wheel.

Who would you be without the thought that there was a mistake, in the past?

Especially with your young child, who may be much older now (or not)?

“Pain is the signal that you’re confused, that you’re in a lie….You are the solution to the problem–your apparent problem. No mother or son has ever done harm. We’re dealing with confusion here, that’s all. Through this work, we come to realize that.” ~ Byron Katie

Love, Grace

2 Responses to Parent Driving Panic

  1. Oh thanks so much for sharing your experience. That is quite a big step that he has been living away…you can forget how huge the difference from what he once lived. It sounds like life has allowed less gripping for you, and more independence for him naturally (I have this experience with my son as well who is 19). Questioning your thoughts may be so helpful as the journey continues, and yes, you don’t have to do it alone. :) Love that you’re here, and that just by reading and being so aware of yourself, you already know what to do.

  2. This resonated with me. I’m the mom of a special needs son, autistic spectrum, and I have made myself believe my involvement, my ‘help’, my constant presence in his life is essential to his well-being. He is chomping at the bit to distance himself from me. He is 23. I actually feel sick to my stomach when he confronts things on his own without my help and I witness the less-than-perfect results. I am too quick to offer damage control. He has been living away from home at college, where he has done well within special services program, and now he is coming back home to live because he’s graduating. I am nervous about his return and how his well-earned independence and my years of ‘gripping the wheel’ mothering style will mesh. I will need to step back, but I believe I will need help doing so.

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