Just the other day the thought hit me that I would rather take a curvy road any day over a straight shot. On a long, straight road, there is no mystery, no surprises. It can become monotonous. A curvy road keeps you on your toes. You have to be alert to the swiftly changing road conditions. There is a spike in adrenaline around every deep curve, because you can’t actually see what’s on the other side, or what is coming at you.
Then, as so often happens, this became a metaphor for parenthood. We don’t really get many straight shots. We don’t get to know what is ahead, or around that next bend. There are constant surprises, and hair-raising adventures at every turn.
Today, I heard an ad on the radio about a company that doesn’t take short cuts. “In fact, if there was such a thing as a long cut, that’s what we’d be doing,” the ad said, and I was catapulted back in time to my dad and his now infamous “Short Cuts.” Especially if he was showing a group of people around, which he did, because he’s a great tour guide, and we’ve lived in some remarkable places, he would offer to take a little short-cut, that could add several hours or even days to a journey. My favorite example EVER was the one from Northern Colorado to Southern Colorado with a short-cut through San Francisco.
He always knew the back roads to places, the winding-curving-twisting-turning roads that were not even close to the most direct route, but there would be a charming cafe along the way, or a turn-of-the-century British Pub and an awesome place to play darts. Or there would be a piece of scenery that would change the course of the day, and put all of life into perspective again.
This afternoon, I wondered if he liked the short-cuts with me when I was a teenager, because in the car, reading aloud a great spy novel together, we were in a place that worked for us. As a teenager, I was all about testing, dismissing, and throwing away boundaries and striking out on my own. It was not always pleasant. It was not always safe. It was a headache and a heartache to my folks. In town, at our own house, in our own community, I was rebelling. Out on the open road, somehow we were kindred spirits looking for an adventure.
It made me really grateful for my dad, who long before the worst of my teenage rebellion was even underway, had determined that he and my mom could Out-Love me, and we would all make it through this period, however long it took.
It was also good timing for me, as I prepare for my second round of teenagers. The first round, with Scott’s older boys, was stressful for me because I was a new mom to teenagers, but I still had all that energy of a newlywed wanting to impress everyone with how awesome I could be. I tried real hard on my best days. Now, I’ve got the tiredness that comes from raising these younger boys all the way from the day they were born, through countless sleepless years, and just when we’re starting to all sleep through the night, we have tween years on the horizon.
So I get to slow down, and remember to take awesome short-cuts through unknown passageways looking for adventure, or the next great hangout – and some downtime with my boys through whatever life may bring.
photo from here