The struggle is real. Every mother should read this blog before you get back on the road again.
Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, I have tried to pay a lot more attention to how I drive. I consider myself a safe person and a protective mother, so I was feeling pretty confident in my driving skills. Besides, mamas can multi-task better than anyone, right?
Reality set in the first week in April when I took off for a week at the beach with my girls. As much as I hate to admit all this—it’s a miracle we made it there alive. All because of my poor choices. We started our trip early, all of us hopped in the car and we pulled out the driveway. Oldest needed a snack, so I reached into the passenger seat and grabbed her a snack and a drink, then passed them back. Youngest needed me to start her movie, and since this is a common event, I am pretty skilled at reaching my arm around the headrest backward to press play on her DVD player. Then, it got really busy. Too hot. Too cold. Adjust the air. Adjust the radio. Little louder. Too loud. Just right. Stop a fight. Finally, I can enjoy my now-cold coffee and Cliff bar in peace. Then, my phone dings with a notification.
I don’t look at my phone. Because I’m a safe driver and I don’t text and drive. I looked over at the car beside me at the stoplight and saw both driver and passenger texting away on their phones. I was still feeling good about myself for being so safe and not responding to that text, and as I drove along, I noticed LOTS of people were either talking on their phones, or texting while they were driving. I kept thinking to myself how dangerous that was. I decided to make a phone call to pass the time—but of course using my hands-free device, because I’m a safe driver!
Making a phone call involved locating my phone, and connecting it to the charger because it was almost dead. But only after I found the charger—in the passenger floorboard. Phone call made. Now, just had to glance at the navigation system to see what time we would be arriving…and it appears I need to adjust the time for Daylight Savings Time….I decide to do that later. Definitely need more coffee because I’m already exhausted from late-night packing. By this time my girls are bored with their movies and decide it’s time for more snacks and 20 questions. As I do my best to answer things like, why are ponies real but unicorns aren’t?, and why doesn’t all the sand wash away at the beach?, I realize we are moments away from our destination! Time probably flew by because it was a ‘busy’ trip, I thought to myself. With so much going on in my car—how did I even have time to drive?!
OUCH. I removed my “Miss Perfect Driver” tiara from my head when the hard reality hit me that I am NOT a really a safe driver. Playing stewardess, disc jockey, and weather controller while eating breakfast and talking on the phone, in true exhausted-parent style isn’t a bad thing—if you’re in the passenger seat.
Psychologists use the term cognitive dissonance reduction—this happens when what we believe to be true about ourselves doesn’t line up with the facts we have been presented. For example—you are a healthy eater, but you just ate a donut. Your mind has to sort these things out, so you either adjust “I’m not really a healthy eater,” or justify, “I deserve a cheat day.” Sadly, this is happening a lot with drivers. I thought I was a safe driver—but I could have easily caused a wreck because of all the distractions while I was driving. So, I used words like “multi-tasking,” “just being a mom,” etc. to justify my dangerous driving behaviors. But unsafe is unsafe, and am striving to do better.
Before you point your finger and say shame on you to the teen texting in the car beside you, I encourage you to take a good hard look at your own driving habits, and see how you’re measuring up first! And please—don’t be too busy to drive!