Missed opportunities. We all miss out. Life events, poor decisions, insecurities, and disabilities cause them in everyone’s life. It’s not something worth dwelling on of course, but it is something that happens and when you can’t do much about it, it hurts.
Just before my sixteenth birthday, I started thinking about what most teens think about: driving. Getting the keys from mom or dad is a right of passage. Driver’s ed class, learning to parallel park, being yelled at by a parent in the passenger seat not to hit the brakes too hard. These are things anticipated by most teens in America I think. Funny enough, it did not occur to me that I would not be able to have these experiences.
When I was seven, an ophthalmologist told my parents and me that I would never ride a bike; my vision was not good enough to do so. This prompted my father to go home and get out my older sister’s small bike with training wheels and teach me to ride. I learned, never doubting that I could ride that bike. I was eventually allowed to ride around the block on the sidewalk by myself, or anywhere that my siblings were willing to ride with me. I knew I could do anything after that.
So as my sixteenth birthday approached, I was looking forward to getting my first car. By this time I was in my fifth foster home so it wasn’t my parents that I asked for said car. I remember the moment I asked for a car like it was yesterday. The foster mother at the time looked bewildered and began to laugh. She did not mean to be cruel, of course. It was just so obvious to her and everyone else that me driving wasn’t going to happen. My argument? Well, a foster sister could drive for me. Problem solved.
So when the big day came, somehow I expected to find a car in the driveway. Sure enough, there was a car in the driveway. It was a gas station toy convertible car, which wasn’t what I had in mind. I was crushed. I think that moment was when I truly understood how different my life would be than that of my peers. But oddly enough, it did not bother me too much until I became a mother. And like my sixteenth birthday expectation, I didn’t think this through.
The inspiration for this blog post came yesterday when I received an email requesting I schedule a time for my girls to have a dress fitting for a bridal event they will be modeling for this weekend. They do this once a year. The times available to have the fitting done coincided with the husband’s work schedule. I had to ask my husband to take time off this week to get us there for the fitting. Doing this occasionally isn’t a huge problem for him, but it isn’t always possible and if he asks to leave work too often, he can get into trouble.
I just knew there would be no way for my kids to participate this weekend if the husband couldn’t do it. I was sure he wouldn’t be able to get the time off. Long story short, he came through and was able to find a time he could get us there and I am beyond grateful.
But what about those times he cannot get the girls to an event? Or the times I would like to run to the grocery store for an ingredient I need to prepare a meal for dinner? Compromise is key in our family, and It works. It also teaches my girls to appreciate when they do get to go places or when I have what we need to bake cookies.
My girls used to dance with a competitive dance team. We managed to make this work for a few years. They were at different levels of ability so they needed to take classes at different times. No biggie, right? Just drop them off and pick them up as needed. Not in our case. The husband finishes work at 5:30 and gets home by 6. Dance class may start at 4 or 5. The competitions were on weekends across the state so weekend travel was necessary. It was exhausting for my husband and uncomfortable for me to put him in that position. Needless to say, we took them out of competitive dance over a year ago and they miss it.
For ten years, we lived in a small city, with a population of approximately 100,000. This place was large enough to offer special transit so I could schedule a ride 48 hours in advance if I needed to. I did this for dance sometimes, but the schedules were inconsistent. I would have to be picked up two hours before dance class started to get there on time because the driver would have six other stops scheduled along the way. This worked out when I was homeschooling my girls, but not so much when I put them into public school because they got out of school an hour before dance would start. We would miss dance class and the dance teacher would be disappointed.
Over the summer we moved to the country. Special transit does not run out here and I’m okay with that. I could not get to the bus stop from our old house because there was no way to cross the busy road to get to the stop close by and when I used special transit for the grocery store once, it took seven hours total just to get $25 in groceries. No thanks.
A positive outcome of the inability to go places is that my girls are super creative. We buy books by the bag at thrift stores and the girls read. They love to paint and make cardboard dollhouses. My eleven-year-old bakes something new at least once a week and they have created their own youtube channel as a creative outlet. My younger daughter helps me garden and is looking forward to raising some chickens soon. She’s helping me build a chicken coop.
Most importantly, they know I would take them around the world if it were possible and they deeply appreciate their dad sacrificing his Saturdays for trips to the museum or other activities to make sure they have an awesome childhood, as do I. Compromise and missed opportunities makes for a creative life. Maybe I should consider not driving to be a blessing.
In case you are interested, here's one of the videos my kids made of our cat. Feel free to like and subscribe to their page! They would appreciate it. :D