To say I think almost daily about how unable I would be to handle the loss of a child would be an understatement. Social media is riddled with tear-jerking stories of parents who have lost their children to cancer, suicide, drug addiction and traffic accidents. Each time I read one, before rushing off to my next business meeting with mascara streaming down my cheek, I promise that click will be my last. But it never is.
Unfortunately what I don’t think about nearly enough is how my children would handle the loss of a parent, which is ironic because I lost one as a teenager. I am a (relatively) safe person. I don’t smoke (anymore), binge drink (anymore) or do lots of drugs (you get the point). I have health insurance, car insurance, life insurance and home insurance. I (try to) drink bottled water, go to the dentist regularly, and recycle. I do all that I can to safeguard our future, except the one thing that would stop putting it at risk 365 days a year.
I text and drive. I don’t do it when my children are in the car, because I would never put their lives in danger. So why do I put my own? I won’t back out of a parking spot without wearing a seat belt, but once I am snapped in, I turn into parenting’s most dangerous hypocrite.
I remember when my toddler starting asking me over and over again, “can I tell you something?” and I mentioned it to my best friend, in a tone that implied ‘where the hell do they come up with these things’. “Are you kidding me?” she gasped, “You say that all the time!”
I need to remind myself that although my kids look like this:
I should think of them like this:
I certainly don’t want them texting and driving when I let them behind the wheel at the tender age of 27, so I shouldn’t do it myself.
I want them to lead long, happy, healthy lives, and encourage those around them to do the same. Just as important, I want to watch them do so. I want to watch them fall in love, walk down the aisle and hold their babies for the first time.
Though for reasons completely out of his control, my father wasn’t able to see those moments (from the ground). And his absence left a whole in my heart, one that I refuse to knowingly risk carving out for my own children.
So today- July 19, 2013 - I am taking a vow, whether rolling solo or in a packed SUV (I don't do minivans), not to text and drive.
Will you take it with me?