Years ago, my mother and I were driving home from an appointment. It was December and it had been snowing for several hours and there was about a foot of snow on the ground. We were driving on Rt. 2 and right before we got to the Waltham St. exit, we hit a patch of black ice and spun out. Long story short, we came within a hair's breadth of being in a head-on with a tractor trailer truck. After we realized we weren't actually going to die that night, and we were safely away from further near death experiences, my mom did something which seemed odd to me at the time. She just sat there, with this blank expression on her face. I knew she was just as full of adrenalin as I was at that moment, but she still just sat there and wouldn't speak.
Flash forward to today, this morning, in fact. The baby and I were making our daily trip to daycare and as we were pulling out of our street, I almost t-boned a police car - there was a truck pulled over on the side of the road blocking my view and even though I had carefully checked as best I could and thought that I was clear, it appears that I failed my awareness check. Long story short here too, everyone was okay, the policeman yelled at the truck driver for parking in an absolutely moronic place and then reassured me that he was okay and that I wasn't a) at fault and b) in any trouble. I had pulled over to the side of the road, right after almost hitting the cruiser and after making sure I wasn't going to be ticketed, I just sat there, adrenalin coursing through my veins, and just stared at the baby in the rear view mirror while he contentedly looked at some raindrops on the window next to him. I imagine that if the baby ever remembers this moment, he'll be puzzled over the blank look that I'm sure was on my face.
Through the jumble of my thoughts, the one constant thread was that my son could have been seriously injured somehow and I would have ultimately felt responsible for it since I was driving and in charge of his safety. I once commented to my mom about how odd her reaction was to me on that night, oh so many years ago, especially since it stood in such stark contrast to my need to be moving, to bleed off the excess of the fight or flight response. She had just given me this look which I couldn't begin to fathom until today. I really hate the argument of "you aren't a parent, you wouldn't understand." but I'm finding that sometimes that does happen to be the case. I couldn't understand my mother's reaction until I was in a similar situation.
It's funny to me how being a parent is seems to be this odd learning experience about love, fear, sorrow and patience. Every day brings a new challenge for my love
and I, new sets of fond memories and new sets of worries for the future as we realize that our son is growing up faster and faster. Through it all, we're managing not to lose our minds and also finding just how much love you can be filled with, and I think it is that love that causes moments like the one I had this morning. The very thought of that love being altered or absent from my life scared me so deeply that I almost shut down when I had a moment to reflect upon it.Man, this parenting thing is a scary trip, sometimes.