I love being a mom, but I have to admit that motherhood involves many unpleasantries (which according to my spell check, is not a word). My two least favorite things about being a mom are potty training and driver’s training.
Potty training was the single biggest test of my patience as a mother. First of all, it’s hard to know when your toddler, who can’t cross the street by herself, is ready to use the toilet. Some of us just hope our kids can manage it by the time they enter kindergarten. Potty training my boys, I often carried the faint scent of urine with me when I went out in public. But don’t get me started on boys and their bathroom habits. What girl would stand on the bathroom counter and try to hit the toilet from four feet up?
I always thought I would rather have a root canal than potty train one of my children. Well, I’ve potty-trained six children and have yet to experience a root canal.
Even though driver’s training is not usually messy or stinky, it carries the added hazard that YOU COULD DIE. I do not do well under these working conditions. I find myself pressing on that imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car and clutching the door handle with a death grip. I usually hold my breath and close my eyes, which is a really stupid way to teach someone how to drive.
The worst part about driver’s training is when the child actually gets his license and he drives around town unsupervised. I lie awake at night wondering if he’s using two hands, applying the three-second rule, and remembering my most important piece of advice: “Stop, stop, stop!”
There is a beautiful and touching song from the musical, “Children of Eden” with score by Stephen Schwartz. With an anguishing choice before him, Noah wonders what to do about his wayward son. He realizes that “the hardest part of love is the letting go.”
You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the Amish? In Andrew, the first book in my new Petersheim Brothers series, Mary Coblenz jumped the fence and made some bad choices in her life. She returns to her Amish community pregnant and unmarried. Her parents are deeply hurt, and they can’t see it in their hearts to forgive her. They are unable to let go of the pain and won’t allow their daughter into their home.
Mary tells Andrew that she left the community in the first place because she realized she was living the life her parents had chosen for her, not the one she wanted for herself. Andrew is also faced with a decision: Does he make his mamm happy by doing what she wants him to do with his life, or does he choose his own path?
It is natural for us parents to want to protect our children from their own mistakes. We don’t want them asking questions we don’t know the answers to. We don’t like it when they make choices that we know will take them down a painful path. It hurts to know that they could have been spared heartache if they had only listened to us. God, the greatest parent of all, gave His children the freedom to make our own choices, even though many of those choices have disastrous consequences. But He lets us choose anyway, because He loves us enough to let us go. He loves us enough to teach us how to drive and let us take the car out for a spin. At times we are reckless. We drive carelessly and crash, putting dents in the bumpers of our lives. But God loves us enough to let us drive, knowing we’ll learn from our mistakes and love Him all the more for letting us choose.
Nineteen years ago I graduated from potty training. It was a glorious day. Six years ago my youngest son got his driver’s license. And even though I still worry every time he walks out the door, I trust him to remember what he’s been taught. After all, he had a pretty good driving teacher, if I do say so myself.
Knowing all that, I still can’t resist. “Drive safely,” I say as he goes.
“I won’t,” he replies sarcastically.
He’s probably too old for a spanking.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014. Visit JenniferBeckstrand.com for recipes, upcoming events, and news about books and giveaways.