Our actions leave a mark upon others

Regret the should've, would've and could'ves of life. Do you ever think about the "what ifs"? What if I would have done "this." Or what if I wouldn't have done "that." I do. As a mom it seems many of my regrets concern the mistakes and choices I've made with my children. I can justify my actions until the cows come home but that doesn't stop me from thinking about what I could've done better-no, what I should've done better and what would've been the outcome if I had. Unfortunately, we don't get "do-overs." But, if we are wise, we learn from our mistakes and we get "do-betters."

My children range from 22 years old to 11. Over the years, I have learned to not always have to be right, laugh more than yell, not take everything personally and to train and lead my children rather than demand and dictate. Oh what a difference this can make and what blessings it can unfold if you are aware of how a cruel tongue or unkind heart might affect someone you love-not just in the moment it happens, but forever.

What do my parenting confessions have to do with automotive you might be wondering? Simple. When you aim to be a better parent, practicing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control … each of these areas become tested when you have a teenage driver! Yes, my second son, Jayden, is fifteen and I am being tested. I've written before that since I put my life at risk once by giving birth to my children, I feel it only right that I shouldn't have to do it again by training them to drive. Mostly, I got away with this with my first son. And I thought I would dodge the responsibility again with number two since Jayden told me, just before he got his permit "Mom, I am never going to drive Big Bertha" (Big Bertha is the endearing name he gave my mini-van.).

So it came as quite a shock to me, as the doors of the license bureau barely closed behind us, when I heard "Mom, can I drive home?" Say what? I nearly choked on my saliva. I thought I'd be getting off scott-free and then that sentence came out of his mouth. In that moment, I did what any mother who has learned what I have would do. I said "sure." And I am quite positive, my response shocked the pants off my teenager-neither of us will ever forget the next half hour as I trained him to drive. A non-regrettable moment for sure.

Our journey did not end there. Jayden and Big Bertha are now well acquainted. He's even programmed the #2 seat setting to fit him! I positively relish the time we spend together in the van-though the relishing comes in between moments of an increased heart rate and practicing patience and self-control. I've gone from dreading the thought of putting my life at risk to embracing the responsibility and using that precious time far more than I ever thought I would.

There are occasions where I still have the luxury of being the driver. Usually on days when I know my patience is running thin or I'm in a hurry. Those times have now changed as well. I feel my teenager boldly critiquing my skills or habits. But what's worse, I see him mimicking them in his driving! The phrase "do as I say, not as I do" has almost slipped out of my mouth a time or two. But that can't be right. I should be rigidly abiding by all of the traffic laws because I am training a future driver. Wait, is that the only reason? Isn't there safety involved? Aren't the rules of the road given to us for a reason?

In changing my habits and becoming a better mom, I often reflect upon this scripture: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." But something occurred to me recently. It does not say "Train up ‘your' child." It says "a child." Oh how this suddenly broadens our scope of training. You see my friends, our children do not only learn from our driving behaviors, they learn from their friend's parents, grandparents, whoever they are in the car with and whoever else is on the road. We are all training up these children! Have you ever considered this?

Perhaps, each time we get behind the wheel we ought to imagine a child in the back seat boldly asking us questions about our vehicles or driving faux pas:

Why are your speeding?

Why are you looking at your cell phone?

Is now the time to post my cute picture on FB?

Shouldn't you put your turning signal on?

Whoa, your brakes don't work … or did you mean to run that red light?

Should you be driving after you drank all that beer?

Did you know that light on your dash means something is wrong with your car?

Do you even know how to drive in a round-about?

Perhaps the roads seem more slippery because your tires are bald!

Would these questions/statements coming out of a child's mouth change the things you do?

Having a driver's license and operating a motor vehicle is a privilege. We are to do what is right at all times because we are responsible for the way we drive and how our actions may affect others. We must make good decisions because we are training others in this world-even when we don't think others are watching. We must abide by the rules and laws and service our vehicles in a timely fashion for our safety and the safety of others.

Of course, ignoring the rules or justifying why you do or don't do certain things may never end in any regrets for you. But the funny thing about regret is, you don't feel it until it's too late. Remember, there are no "do-overs" there are only "do-betters." So I'll be waving joyfully to y'all from the passenger seat of Big Bertha as I train my teen to be a great driver. I sure hope you'll join me by training him too.

By Jeana Babcock

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