When my children were tiny babies, I was terrified to cut their finger nails. Absolutely terrified. Now, 17 years later, I am riding in the passenger seat of my mini van, with my teenage son at the wheel. And let me just say, that I would feel less anxiety if you were to blindfold me, force me to do a shot of tequila, hand me ten newborn babies, and a rusty nail clipper, and say, "clip away!"
Nobody tells you about this when you are thinking about having children.
The loss of control, the absolute fear for their safety, how the fragility of their life can paralyze you.
You do not hear about it.
And the thing is, my kid is a good driver. Confident, and careful. But still. Sitting there next to him, I have found more places in that mini van to hang onto, and have hit that imaginary brake more times than you can count. I will not even answer my phone, for fear of distracting him. Of course, when I yell, "Slow down!" grabbing the ceiling and stretching my legs out like I am about to stop us from hitting a brick wall with my incredible legs of steel, I end up completely panicking him; I become his worst distraction of all.
I am not good at this.
I have seen more teens on the side of the road, next to their smashed up car, speaking into their cell phone (calling mom and dad, no doubt) and I want to throw up. Really. I want to pull over, take their phone, say, "I see your kid in front of me and they are FINE" but excuse me now, because I am going to throw up."
They look like babies to me. I remember sitting in Drivers Ed class with my son, looking at the young faces around me and thinking, "I do not want to be on the road with any of you!"
But time moves on and kids grow up and like it or not, it is their turn to drive.
There is no imaginary brake.
I do not have legs of steel.
I can throw up all I want.
It changes nothing.
Well, I'd be really skinny, I suppose.
But as far as the kids are concerned, it changes nothing.
Like it or not, they are ready to hit the road.
Actually, ready or not...they are going to hit the road.
It's funny, as a "former mommy blogger", to look back on those posts that really defined my life at that time. The diapers, the women at the park with the dirty looks, the kitchen messes, the long days that had no naps, the isolation, the feeling fat, wondering what my purpose was, wondering if I was good enough. At the time, life was so hard. And yet, at the end of the day, I put my baby in pjs, that most likely had feet and an adorable animal print, rocked them and kissed them, and put them safely in bed. A bed with bars. And a tent. They could not get out.
Why don't we make beds like this for teenagers?
I decided a few weeks ago that I needed back up.
Because I can not get my teens to sleep in a crib.
Because I can not prevent them from getting in a car and driving away.
And because if I start throwing up on the side of the road, people will begin to talk about me.
And so now, when that worry starts to build up...when my mind starts to go in all the wrong, dark places that the devil hopes it will go, I call on back up.
I put together a team.
A team of Saints.
My own Super hero squad, if you will.
When the tears are too much and the anxiety sky high, I call out to them.
I give them my children.
Saint Sebastian, Saint Monica, Saint Augustine, Saint Therese, Saint Michael, Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint Joseph...blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati...these are just some of the ones I call on. And of course, they are all lead by their Guardian Angels and our beautiful blessed Mother Mary.
And the best part?
They always show up.
And my teenagers? They may not know it, but they are there..and they are guiding them, and they are whispering to their hearts.
They think that I have finally left them alone.
They think I am no longer pushing my ideas and my ways and my crazy Jesus talk in their faces...
but they are wrong.
I could not be any more present.
A mother who prays is a serious weapon.
You see, we have this cloud of witnesses.
They surround us.
They have shown us how to run the race. (Heb 12:1)
And our kids?
They are running a race that is faster, and more dangerous than the race you and I ran.
Their stress is higher, the world is louder, and we need to fight hard to get their attention.
We need back up!
How stupid am I to have been trying, all of these years, to help my children by my own strength?
My son takes his drivers test this week.
Most likely, he will have his drivers license by Friday.
I have asked my husband to take him, because I am too afraid.
But I can rest in peace at home, knowing that he does not ever go out on the road, or into this world, alone.
I will see to it that his car is filled.
He will be surrounded.
And no matter what.
No matter what bumps he hits and unfamiliar roads he takes.
No matter how many accidents, how many dents, how fast he goes or how lost he gets.
No matter who he drives with.
He will have back up.
He will run his race, he will persevere, and by the grace of God, he will finish well.