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A Mother of Teens Understands

A long drive reminded me there’s no place like home

By Brenda MahlerPublished about a month ago 4 min read
A Mother of Teens Understands
Photo by Gerhard Kupfer on Unsplash

“This area is sure dry,” I remembered thinking. It is called the desert, only a short drive from home where everything looks plush and green. But then, that is the reality of life. Everything is fresh and alive until a couple of dry spells. Then the world turns barren producing little pleasure.

As I pulled off the freeway, some signs of life appeared. A Chevron gas station signaled civilization, for everyone knows cities are built around Chevrons. Or is it the other way around? Which came first the city or the Chevron?

The drive through town revealed hotels, restaurants, even a Pizza Hut, garage sales, homes, and the park where I sat thinking — thinking about how I came to be in this car with a half-acre park on the right and an acre of sagebrush on the left.


The morning woke me — not actually — the neighbor’s dog woke me at 6:30. I laid in bed wondering how to kill another day with the goal of accomplishing something while having some fun. A list ran through my mind only to be interrupted by the damn dog on the other side of the fence: shopping, chores, pack the kids for camp, bath the dog, visit Mom, find a math tutor, maybe arrange a date with my husband.

I glanced at him knowing that though his eyes remained shut his mind was awake. It would feel wonderful to have his body wrapped around mine, but pride and the summer heat kept me on my side of the bed until his arm moved over the halfway mark. Then a comforting back rub relaxed me but signaled it was time to get out of bed.

I recorded the mental list to memory. By the time I stepped out of the shower, it was prioritized. When I finished dressing, the plans became cemented and my excitement increased. This would be a great day. I would make it happen.

In response to my encouragement to get out of bed and my singing “rise and shine” I met resistance. My daughters emitted grunts and moans. Then from under a blanket, “Why do I have to get up?”

From under a pillow came, “Dad said I don’t have to. I don’t feel good.” Another summer day was beginning much like the others and as the sun rose, I felt the grass beginning to burn under the penetrating, constant and unforgiving rays. My visions of a beautiful day faded as my mood darkened.

Within moments I found myself in my car driving to who knew where. Without a destination, I left home to escape. On that day an impulse signaled I had to get away, if only for awhile, away from home.

During a stop at Burger King to purchase some much-needed coffee, I watched a father and two children solve a puzzle on the menu — all three captivated and intent on working together to complete the task. Each competitive but only so they could teach the others the solution. I remembered those days — when a restaurant menu satisfied the children.

I secretly watched the family as they climbed into their car suspecting my girls were still in bed. They lacked the motivation to fight for the front seat or have the ambition to get out of bed in an attempt to explore the day or accomplish a goal. I wondered if they even had goals. The ones I heard them vocalized sounded like words spoken by a parrot.

My daughters’ noises of complaint pushed me out the door to my car and back onto the road. A morning drive promised new insights while I contemplated life and reflected through tears. No problem existed just an emptiness, probably a feeling every mother experiences when their children enter the teen years.

Music played sending mixed messages filtering into my mind. Those that penetrated my heart caused me to flinch. Memories of singing lyrics while holding and rocking my babies, a reminder that life is a roller coaster.

Clouds gathered outside my window— not rain clouds but a dark collection of vapors floated in the sky that held suspense and unknown potential. I slowed to watch as a child played on jungle gym causing me to smile. I thought, “Where am I headed?”

That was the first time I had questioned my destination. In the beginning, it had been enough to just get in the car and drive. Now I wondered why I stopped here and what I searched. Would driving away bring answers closer? Did anyone even notice my absence?

Burger King coffee really isn’t that bad, but I missed the touch of cinnamon in my coffee at home. The radio announcer predicted a possible thunderstorm. I knew two things could come from a storm. With the thunder, rain might fall to refresh the spirit of Earth. The soil would absorb the moisture and breathe for a while. Or the thunder could come alone striking the land that already lay dry and brown. It would only take one strike to burn acres.

I thought the green park would survive the threat of lightning, but the acre of sagebrush would welcome the strike and burn with increasing power until itself fueled the blaze.

A voice in my head said, “Trust God.” I wondered, “Would God send the rain without the lightening?” I smiled thinking there might be dry spells, but the rain always comes. Then I conceded it was time to go home because I was tired, barren and all ability to think rationally had dried up.

As I pulled into the garage, the door to the house opened and the girls greeted me with questions.

“Where did you go? Can we go shopping today?”

“Do you think it is going to rain?”

“What are you making for breakfast?”

The girl’s rapid-fire inquires created a breeze of cool, refreshing air. Their energy reminded me as times change and they grow, they will still want Mom nearby. I simply needed to learn to balance my need to hold them close and their desire to mature.

I answered each question, “For a drive. Yes, we can go shopping. It might rain but the sun will come out. Let’s make some pancakes, together.”

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About the Creator

Brenda Mahler


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    Brenda MahlerWritten by Brenda Mahler

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