The Invisible Brake

I am sure that as every teenager passes into that realm of being a responsible adult by learning how to drive every last one of us….we have driven with our parents.

I am unsure if when a father teaches his daughter or son that the same things occur when a mother teaches the same children to drive. I will actually never know. My mom taught me how to drive. Kinda. I mean, because of her, I learned how to drive a standard. The rest of it, I learned in an automatic. Most cars I drove were automatics because well my mom did not trust me enough to let me drive her car.

When I was 14 we took a trip down to Texas. My mom allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat in a McDonald’s parking lot and practice shifting gears. Totally awesome right. I am one of those summer babies. So while all my friends hit their landmarks in school, I hit them all before the next school year started. (Try being the only 17 year old in your group of friends graduating, sober, boring and watching everyone else have a grand time) PSA Drinking does not lead one to have a good time. But in moderation and with good friends, it can enliven an evening and make for good memories.

So while all my friends were getting their driver’s license’s I was held back by my age restraint. And than the fact that the first time I went for my driver’s test, my brake lights did not work, second time I failed everything but the parallel parking aspect and third time is the charm. Got my license.

Alright, I have my license. Hey I even had a job. I was well on my way to becoming a responsible and active adult member of society. But mom, well mom had some issues.

The first time we drove together after I got my beginner’s was in the Kmart parking lot near our home. There was a lot of shouting. It was a Sunday. (This was before Sunday shopping was a thing, so the parking lot was empty.) I stalled a lot. Do you know, that really to shift gears is so easy, 20, 40, 60 and 80 and 100. Learned that from a boyfriend. Prob only good thing cause I don’t recall his name.

Mom yelled. I slammed on brakes. A lot. Not the invisible one. The real one. I stalled. She drove home.

Which leads me to this recollection.

One Friday evening mom is going out with the girl friends. I am going to babysit for one of them. Mom decides that I should drive from one end of the city to the other. Back in my day it would take about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending on how I hit the lights. Today, it would take us close to an hour and a half.

Hyundai Pony. A blondish gold color. Very basic. Had the radio on to my station. Yes, mom allowed me to have my radio station on. She sat in the passenger seat which underneath the glove box had a shelf that held the interior warmer. This is an item that you have when you live in Manitoba.  One plugs it in along side their regular block heater. This one though kinds takes the chill outta getting into a car in -40 degree celsisus weather.

The drive from home to the downtown area of Winnipeg is uneventful. It is twilight and I have made most of the lights so it has been clear sailing. Part of my route is a known route for it is the way we drive to my grandparents every week. Mom and me we are talking. Laughing. Having one of those really rare mother daughter (when she is a teenager) moments. Where all the animosity, the ‘you know nothing attitude’ the exasperation because well how do you understand a daughter who is nothing like you? That night mom and me, we were in a groove.

We are driving up Donald Avenue. This area is center downtown Winnipeg. It is a bus route. It is Friday night approximately 7ish in the evening. Traffic is enough to make mom a little nervous. So we are cruising along. I am doing all the right things. I am, for one, in the damn lane I need to be in. Two, I am watching all angles of traffic…..including the buses to the right of me. And yes, I am aware that the bus has it’s flasher on. Yes mother I am aware, I am watching.

Well mom had very little faith in my ability to gauge traffic. To this day she still grabs the door handle if she thinks I might be about to kill us all. First she says ‘Jay, watch out.’ I look at her and say nothing. (From the corner of my eye) ‘Jay-lyn do you see that bus?’ I glance at her and return my concentration to the road. Please note, the bus is 50 feet in front of me, edging out and I have already taken my foot off the gas because a) my depth perception is a little off and would rather be safe than sorry b) mom is starting to panic.

The bus swings out into my lane. There is more than enough room to spare. I am no where near crashing into and killing not only ourselves but the bus riders. Mom shrieks. I look at her in dismay. Radio is playing Bon Jovi. And mom slams on her invisible brake.

Her invisible brake? The shelf that held the interior warmer. She slammed her foot into that shelf like it was going to bring the car to a complete and utter halt. My head whips around and in a split second I gape at her than return my attention to the road. The bus soars off into the distance and four cars are able to slide into the gap.

I glide to a stop at the red light. And my head swivels to look at mom. Mom stares back at me. I cannot even ask the question. But I do. ‘Mom what do you not trust me?’

Mom looks at the the shelf. She looks at me. (and this is poetic license)

‘Onward Jeeves.’

**If memory serves I think there was a lot of giggling and accusations shouted in fun. I demanding to know if she didn’t trust my driving skills or what? And her defending her actions……’but that bus was soooooo close.’**

I am not the perfect mother

I am not the perfect mother. Hell I do not even come close. I am the mother whose car is a disaster, who although I have all his shit packed, will still forget to pick up her son at the sitter’s before heading off to soccer practice. Because well that just happens when you are single mom and you need to be in six places at once.

When I was a child I hated my mother’s punishments. And truly they weren’t punishments they were corrections to my behaviour. As an adult omg my mom is my hero. (Having said that mom read ahead with caution). She set boundaries. She made me responsible for my actions. She made me the incredible person that I am (okay so that is tooting my own horn) But I am following in her footsteps so she must have done something right.

So this evening I am having a conversation with a friend. We are discussing boundaries and how her kids seem to ignore hers. So I am listing off all the things that she can do. All the things that my mom implemented with me. Things that worked. And as I read over my suggestions I start to envision what she is seeing.

She sees that little old lady with her glasses perched on the end of her nose. Steely eyes glaring. Pin curls that were contrived in the 1950’s and have never changed a bit. Her bosom is a shelf that cannot be breached, her waist thick and barely there. Her stockings roll up at the knees because she can’t be bothered to pin them up at her thighs.

Oh my dear god, that is so not me. So I needed to enliven the conversation. I needed to let her know that I was not the perfect mother that my voice portrayed in the messages I sent. So, I told her the following story.

I am a single mom. I have needs. I have desires. I have an eight year old son who at this point and time does not need to know that his mother is a being with a life beyond him. (He will learn, but right now I can hide this aspect of my life) So when T is around I am the celibate single mom who lives for her child.

Alright folks (mom I suggest you stop reading here) I am going to admit the truth. I may be single. I may not want to introduce a multitude of men to T’s life which would only serve to confuse him, but I am a sexual woman. And I have a drawer full of toys. Yes mother if you are still reading I have toys!

So and I am absolutely positive that I am not the only one that this has happened to, but I am putting this out there. I was having a rough night and T was being a little shit. Arguing and fighting. Telling me how great his father was. I was incensed and a little pissed. He would not go to bed. Finally after a bath at 10 and listening to him chant mom over and over and over again I caved and told him go to sleep in my room! I can move him back to his when I go to sleep.

Silence ensues and I lay back on the couch, ready to watch another episode of whatever I was watching when T comes into the living room.

‘Mom what is this? I found it at the end of your bed?’

I look over and omfg he has my vibrator. I cannot even be ashamed at this point and time; because this folks, this is why we as parents have boundaries. He is flicking it around and I bolt off the couch screeching ‘give that to me.’ Poor child thought that he had done something wrong.

As he stares at me with tear stained eyes, confused and unsure as to what he has done wrong I implore him; ‘Buddy I have never ever asked you to lie or say nothing to your dad. But baby this is a secret we need to keep okay?’

‘Mom what is that?’

‘That is a toy for mom.’ I admit lame ass reply but what the hell else am I suppose to say?

‘Oh so do you use that when you are sad? You play with it to make you happy?’

As I choke on my laughter and shake my head, tears glisten in my eyes. Oh yeah I am still waiting for my ex to confront me about the fact that T found my vibrator. I am still absolutely horrified that he found it. But this leads me back to my mom, who set boundaries so never once did I ever find her sex toys. (Sorry mom please forgive me.)

I am not the perfect mom.