What a Road Trip With My Son Taught Me

We must keep watch for those sacred moments with our kids.

My youngest son and I took a quick road trip to Michigan. The destination was my hometown. Although we have navigated this course more times than I can count, this trip was different. My son drove the whole way.

We are thick in the midst of driving hours for him to receive his license. He’s ready to invest in those hours of practice. Me? Not so much. Learning to drive indicates another mile marker of independence. For parents, those places mean an adjustment emotionally and logistically. Movement toward maturity involves change in relationships with others. That can be an uncomfortable place in which to sit when you are one of the “others.”

Originally I intended to sit in the driver’s seat. Because that’s what I have been conditioned to do. And as much as I don’t always relish my role as a chauffer, I have become a creature of habit. But my son asked if he could drive on this trip. Really? The whole way? Hesitantly, I took my place in the passenger seat. It’s where I belonged but it didn’t feel comfortable.

But yielding control has its benefits. God provides in unexpected ways.

The trip was not without some bumps in the road (literally and figuratively). He’s still learning. It would have been much more efficient (and I could have argued “safer”) if I drove. But that’s not how parenting works. If I had never allowed my son to walk, he would not have developed his muscles in his legs or made neural connections in his brain. Parents live the paradox of being protectors and liberators at the same time. And that can be an uncomfortable place in which to sit.

What I recognized was that this place, these moments were sacred opportunities. In the midst of the quandaries of figuring out how to navigate our relationship,God had provided a sanctuary today. We talked about school,the afterlife, and mysteries listened to podcasts. We even ate inside (gasp!) at McDonalds because he didn’t want eating interfering with driving.

I recognize this is my last round of big “liberation” moments with my kids. He graduates next year. My last child will be on his own. These moments are precious. I’ve tried to take advantage of impromptu opportunities in the car before. You’d think I would learn. Today, I will savor the gift we were given and pray that I keep watch for the next one.

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4 thoughts on “What a Road Trip With My Son Taught Me

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I learned to fly when just a lad,
    and was surprised to know
    that all the airborne hours I had
    meant there’s no place I couldn’t go.
    I could fly across the nation,
    from LAX to JFK,
    and with no further hesitation,
    across the sea, far away.
    It really did seem amiss,
    teenager given wide free rein,
    but I’ll tell you, it was bliss,
    and I’d like to do it all again.
    I found a truth, somewhat enchanted,
    living up to trust that was granted.

  2. Tara

    What a great story. About a month or so ago, I had a mom share a story about her daughter turning 13 and getting her first phone. Mom held off until then even though most of her daughters friends already have a phone. I’ll bet she felt similar to you letting your son drive that whole trip.

  3. Jolene

    My letting go moments is allowing my child to start making more decisions for herself as she is approaching her teen years. Thank you for your encouraging words that you shared in this post.


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