Independence Day


Submitted 2 months ago
Created by
Kerry Krieger Clifford

Have I told you lately how fantastic my kids are? Haha, jk, of course I have. 

For the past couple of years, especially since I’ve been unable to work full time, I’ve taken on the role of “Mom Taxi” with pride. It’s an overly specific, gendered term, but it paints a picture, and since I have extra time on my hands, I’ve gladly accepted the position of Transportation Secretary of our family. As parents, it seems that we spend half of our lives in our cars transporting our kids from point A to point B, possibly points C-E, and then back home to point A once again. We try to maximize the in-between time with errands and quality time with our other kids, but cooking a real meal is almost out of the question because, as with the brownies I foolishly decided to bake last week, the timer ends up going off while we’re sitting in line at practice pick-up.

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My friend Destiny has mastered this job almost beyond reasonable expectations. Her older kids go to schools in two different towns. Her husband works a million hours a week, and her toddler twins are in day care while she teaches all day. After school hours and on the weekends, the youngest two travel a circuit of local libraries, farmers markets, and playgrounds with her while they wait for the older two to finish with their extracurricular activities. She gets everyone where they need to go and never sends an SOS to our text group. Also – and this is the part I really can’t wrap my head around – she cooks. Really good food. And reads books. She’s my hero. Every mom is, because every mom does things that I could never do. If you’re a mom and you’re reading this, you’re my hero.

As hard as it gets, I actually value the transporting. On my low energy days, when it feels like the radiation from January and the chemo drugs from 2017 are never going to work themselves out of my body (note: they might not), the feeling of inertia can be absolutely overwhelming. And now we’re piling fresh new poison on top of it all. There are plenty of days when I don’t even leave the house. I waver between feeling like a bump on a log and knowing that resting is absolutely a part of my self care. Sometimes, going out to move the kids around town and across the river to their dad’s house is the only time I leave my house in a day. It usually requires a nap after, but it’s worth it because of the time spent in conversation – or even bonded silence – with my two favorite people in the whole world.

My older son passed his road test just a couple of weeks ago. He is now a licensed driver, and I’m so very grateful that I’m here to be a part of this rite of passage. (In my more melancholy moments, I wonder which other milestones I’ll get to see and I wonder if there are some I can rush along so that I don’t miss them. Can I co-sign a mortgage with them so that I can be sure to see them buy their first house?) I’m so excited for Max’s feelings of maturity, competence, and freedom that have come with his license. I’ll never forget that look of pride he wore as he came back into the DMV from his successful road test. And I’m thrilled not to be the sole driver in the house. We need milk? Go get it, Max! Take-out is ready (remember: I’m no Destiny). Max! We’re number 57; here’s some cash!

Max and Dalton, returning from a recent Yummy Yummy run

But when we got home from his test and I watched my tousle-haired baby as he drove himself and his brother off to football practice, with Dalton eagerly taking charge of the Spotify "Brothers on the Road Without Mom" playlist, the harder reality also hit me. My level of necessity in their lives just dropped measurably. There may now be days when I actually don’t have any reason at all to leave my house. My kids are pretty good with checking in on me, but there are going to be times when I have absolutely no idea where they are and I’m just going to have to trust that they are meeting their responsibilities and staying safe. And they really don’t need me anymore to get to points B, C, D, or E. I feel lucky that our school is in the center of town and the boys know that I have eyes on them everywhere they go within Windsor's town limits.

Our communication system stands to take a huge hit, too. The car is where we talk about all of the things. Social stuff, school stuff, medical stuff, plans for the future… all of it. Now when am I going to remind them to be kind? Find out who they might potentially consider asking to homecoming, if asking someone to homecoming was something they would actually consider doing? We tend to make most of our vacation plans while driving in the car… guys, where should we drive to next? Now when will we make our plans?

While they’ll never really get used to me talking to them about sex and drugs, I definitely think that they prefer having those talks (safety, respect, consent, not being an asshole, etc.) in the eye-contact-free zone of the passenger’s seat. They can close their eyes, but not their ears, so they’ve heard all of my spiels multiple times – at least once for every friend they have who might tell them something different. I'm going to have to work extra hard to get in my reminders about how to be respectful, responsible, and good people.

So here we are, in this new little era of our growing up together. Seeing them a bit less, but being a bit more in awe of their utter coolness every time that I do. Knowing that I’ve planted the seeds of wisdom and hoping that they’ve taken root despite their complete lack of a frontal lobe. And me finding new reasons to get myself out of the house that don’t depend on them depending on me. Also, I’m working with them to plan more road trips full of good talks and life-shaping experiences, and I’m looking forward to not always being the one behind the wheel. Except when it’s right after an infusion. Chemo and teenage drivers do not mix. 

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