Tomorrow my son has a doctor’s appoint in New Orleans, and I’m terrified.
I’m not scared because it likely my boy has a terrible disease. This appointment has nothing to do with anything of the sort. Yes, we could find out some potentially life-changing diagnosis, but chances are the geneticist is simply going to tell me I’ve got a very tall , very healthy young man on my hands. It’s what I’m expecting and even if things go a different why, my soul is already at peace with the appointment.
So what, you might wonder, has me in such a frantic state of mind. The answer is simple: driving.
I’ve never liked driving.
I much prefer riding, as long as I can ride in the front passenger’s seat. If I must sit in the back, then I need lots of cold air and a pillow, and maybe a dramamine, in order to keep myself happy. For as long as I can remember, I suffer from car sickness. Back seats, trying to read anything (including a map), being too hot or too warm or not having enough air movement … all of these things make it worse. Thankfully, I’m not the sort that vomits. I just get bad headaches and feel incredibly nauseous until the vehicle stops moving.
I never get car sick when I am the driver. Therefore you might expect I’d want to always drive. That’s not the case either. Insane as it might sound, I’d much rather ride than drive.
Why, you might wonder, is this the case?
Perhaps it is because I grew up in a one-light town.
This light wasn’t even your standard stop light. No, it just blinked, a slow cautionary yellow blinking light at the Y-intersection in the center of what most people would even hesitate to call a town.
When I left home for college, I didn’t have a car. I always caught a ride with friends, back and forth from home to school and back to home again. The campus was small enough to walk, and I was fortunate enough to have several friends with cars who could drive me off-campus on occasions when I needed a lift.
It wasn’t until I married that I had any real experience with big city driving. Over the years, I’ve driven in a lot of big cities: Newport News, VA; Monterey, CA; Houston, TX; Austin, TX, and Savannah, Georgia (which, by the way, is the capitol of one-way streets going nowhere). I can handle driving in traffic. It’s not a huge problem.
So why, you might wonder, is traveling over to New Orleans freaking me out?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m not a map girl.
Oh, I can read a map, but I cannot remember it in detail in my head and I certainly can’t read it as I travel down the road (either as the driver or a passenger). When I need to get to a place that I don’t already know how to find, I either get verbal directions (from another passenger or perhaps even beforehand if the area is one with which I am already familiar) or by paying close attention to the roads and visual markers as I ride around in new places.
I’ve been to New Orleans several times, but I’ve never been to where I am going and I’ve never driven the route I am about to take. While I’ve studied the map in preparation for this driving experience, I am scared I am not going to remember it as I attempt to navigate my way tomorrow morning.
My big fear is taking one wrong turn. Then there I’ll be … lost … with my son … in New Orleans … near the French Quarter. I literally feel as if I might be one terrible half-step from catastrophe.
Fortunately for me, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.
Exactly what, you might wonder, could this possibly be?
Have I mentioned the particular child going with me on this New Orleans adventure is a mapping genius?
I’m serious. This is the kid who asked for a road atlas for Christmas this past year. He already had one, but some of the pages were getting worn out and he desired to have the most recent edition in case there were any “minor changes to roadways.” (His words, not mine.) It’s actually the fifth road map I’ve bought him, not counting the two he
stole borrowed from his grandfather’s house.
This boy of mine has been reading maps for as long as either of us can remember. Sometimes I wonder if he was born with a map in his hand, only I was there and I’m pretty sure he came out empty-handed. When he was a toddler, the TV show Dora the Explorer used to frustrated both of us. I was frustrated by the repetitive songs. He was frustrated because the maps were “always the same.” (Again, these are his words. I’m just reporting the facts of the story.)
When he was seven years old, this boy directed me from rural north Louisiana all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I drove. He told me where to go. We made it … me behind the wheel, him riding shotgun with a map, and his two younger siblings sleeping and fighting in their carseats in the back of our packed minivan. I wondered at the time if he would someday be a trucker.
So what, you might wonder, is my big fear about this trip seeing as I am taking along an incredible navigator?
Fear of failure?
Probably. I don’t like the idea of not succeeding. And in my mind, succeeding would be me backing out of my driveway with full confidence of knowing exactly where I am going, which turns to make, where to park, how to find the particular doctor’s office I need in a rather large and intimidating hospital, and knowing I’ll get us both safely home in time for dinner.
Fear of dependence on another person?
Definitely. It’s hard to depend on someone else for your safety.
Especially if that someone is quite a bit younger than you.
Especially if that someone is your child.
The older my children grow, the harder it is for me to let them actually grow up, especially in areas in which I have never really felt successful. Already my son is better than me when it comes to getting around new places, and he doesn’t even have a driver’s license … and won’t for another two years, at least.
Tonight as I am preparing for tomorrow’s journey, I realize in the morning I am going to depend upon this boy I birthed to get me to our final destination. How can this possibly be when I vividly recall changing his diapers and teaching him to use a spoon? I’m still instructing him on the finer points of good manners and praying that some of what I teach him regarding Algebra 1 sticks in his brain.
It feels so hard to swallow my pride and let him take the lead. And yet tomorrow he’s going to be in charge. I know I will actually be the one behind the wheel of the car, but I’m going to be relying on his judgement … whether I’m ready for it or not.
I think there is another issue at heart here as well.
Trust in God.
Do I really believe God is always with me, as He has promised? If I did, would I really be so worried?
This is as much a test in trusting God as it is in learning to hand over trust to my son. What I know deep inside is that I can either continue to drive myself crazy with the fears running around in my brain, or I can decide to take a deep breath and trust in God to lead both me and my amazing teen boy through the journey we must take tomorrow.
After all, each day is nothing more than a lesson in learning to trust. Some days are just harder than others.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10