I live in a small-ish city with two universities within five miles of each other. I grew up in a much smaller town. So as a mother of a small child, heading out on the road during rush hour falls about two inches shy of terrifying. Sometimes as I navigate through the minefield of busy students while trying my best not to scream profanities at the people around me, I remember that once upon a time that college kid running from class, to work, to home, and back, that was me.
Once upon a time, I didn’t have a baby in the back seat.
And if we’re being honest, I didn’t really think about the fact that other people did either.
If I could write a letter to myself before there was a “baby on board”, it would go something like this:
You are going to college! You are packing eighteen years into a tiny, two-door 89′ Saturn and getting out. A few things to remember before you go.
Right now, your world is changing and everything is exciting. Right now, your world is mostly about well, you. Right now as you hit the road you feel free, scared, independent, and maybe a little invincible. This is all amazing, and you don’t realize it yet but you should be savoring every bit of this experience because it goes too fast.
One thing you can’t experience is foresight. That’s why I’m writing. I know it’s hard to see right now, but someday you will find someone else to share your life with. He will get up and go to work every morning, and the thought of losing him will be too much to bear. You will pray every single morning that he drives safely and comes back to you again. Then, one day (and I know this seems an eternity away) you and that person will start a family together. Having a family of your own will change your perspective in ways you didn’t know were possible. That first time you put you’re brand new baby in a car will scare the crap out of you. You will learn a thing or two about life and how vulnerable and fragile we really are. You won’t feel invincible anymore.
I want you to know, I am happy for you. I want you to feel free, independent, and exhilarated. But know this, you are not invincible. The husbands, daughters, and sons with whom you share the road aren’t either. So live it up girl, but do me a favor. Put your cell phone away and focus on the road, whatever it is can wait. Really. Lighten up your lead foot, you aren’t cool just because you can drive fast. Stop calling people “grandpa” drivers because that’s your future honey.
Most of all I hope that you will notice the people. Notice the husbands, and daughters and sons on the road next to you. Then when you see a frazzled new mom with an infant in the car, remember that someday that will be you.