Laresa Watkins

Driving While Mothering

Sep 5, 2010

Charlie and I were cruising down I-40 a few days ago on our way back from visiting family out of town when I noticed a car speeding up behind me.  The car whipped around us, slammed on brakes, and moved into the exit lane.  When Charlie is in the car with me I have no patience for bad driving, so I was just fuming.  Then I saw the sign of mothers everywhere-the shade in the window.  My anger quickly subsided as I realized that there was a child in a carseat in the back, and the driver was just trying to drive, feed, soothe, and complete other tasks required of a mother on the road, just like me.

Every stage of motherhood has its challenges when it comes to operating a motor vehicle.  Mothers of infants, for example, should probably not be allowed to drive until their child sleeps through the night.  Someone who has had only 3 hours of sleep has no business driving a golf cart, much less a car!  I remember several times when I could barely keep my eyes open until I made it home.  At this point of motherhood, we are only shells of our former selves, and our licenses should be temporarily suspended.  But then who would take the baby to its doctor’s appointments and go to the store to buy diapers and food? We must stumble on…

Then comes the toddler with its many demands and need for attention. I can’t help but turn around to look at Charlie and marvel at his cuteness or hand him a cracker or pinch his toe.  On top of the basic distraction of simply having a toddler in the car, you have the added element of the occassional tantrum.  Now that is a tough one.  Yesterday I just kept turning the radio up to try to drown Charlie out when he wouldn’t stop screaming because he couldn’t reach his sippy cup that he had moments before thrown in the floor!

I have seen my sister-in-law struggle while chauffering her 5 and 9 year-olds around.  They are constantly demanding that she put in a new DVD or fast forward or rewind what they are already watching, change the track on the CD they are listening to, or tattling on each other for hurt feelings.  She is amazing-she can drive, work a sound system, talk on the phone, and sing along with the church children’s Christmas program soundtrack all at the same time! Some things just come with experience, I suppose.

Then there are the poor mothers who have turned into passengers while their teenagers are driving.  I can’t even imagine the horror.

We should have flashing lights or have to paint our cars yellow to warn people that we are driving with children and we are crazy!  Us mothers of infants have those handy pull-down shades to let others know that there is a child in the car, and some moms even put up the “Baby on Board” signs, too.  Now, if you see one of those you better just pull over until the car is only a spot on the horizon-that woman is trying to tell you to watch out!

Lord, just watch over us all!


**December 2014**  Now that I have 3 and 5-year-olds, I need to add an extra stage of mothering which is quite possibly the worst of all: the chauffeur.  This is the mom who is late dropping the kid off at school or dance or karate or baseball or something.  They are DANGEROUS, people!  These moms are desperate to get somewhere on time for once, JUST ONCE!  They will speed and cut you off and forget to use the turn signal.  If you look in your rearview mirror and see a minivan on your tail and notice a woman with wild-looking hair and eyes in the drivers seat, just move over and let her pass.  

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