I recently watched an episode of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother where one of the male leads who had recently became a first-time dad has a conversation with his father, using some sort of metaphor of driving on a foggy road for fatherhood.
The son, Marshall, talks about how as a kid it was always comforting to wake up on car trips and see his dad awake, confidently navigating the roads. He questions how his father was able to do it, and his father reveals he was full of trepidation as he drove along roads he really couldn’t see. There’s some comedy thrown in, but the metaphor itself sticks.
I’ll admit, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting a parenting moment like this from the show despite its name.
If I’m being honest, I feel like I am driving down the same road Marshall’s dad was. I’m trusting my instruments, I’m using my lights, but I’d be a fool to say that I see everything. I’d be a fool to think I know every twist, bump and dead end in the road of parenting. That’s why I use my maps, phone my friends, trust my co-pilot.
Yes, I’d also be a fool to think I’m the only one driving the car. I have co-pilot, and I am one. I know she has driven with the same thoughts – which is one of the many things I love about us.
Some days I don’t want to drive or even get in that car. I’m so apprehensive about road hazards that I can’t see or think. But as parents we don’t have a choice, do we? We hop behind that wheel and we journey on.
Still, I wake with a fear every morning — mornings that come too early — that I may be “driving the wrong way” or haphazardly. I know I have precious cargo, my family, aboard and I want them to not only have a safe ride, but also the best ride that they can. So, I wake up worried, another day filled with doubt and dread.
Why do we parents do it?
That first step, that first word.
The smiles, the laughter.
Those hugs and kisses.
The look of wonder. The magic of amazement.
Long walks, longer talks.
The pride of their success. The comfort they seek with each defeat.
Yes, every skinned knee, wound from a lost toy, bump, bruise and broken heart can be weathered with love.
And that’s what makes this journey worth it.
We can take the time to worry about the evils behind the fog, but then we might miss out on the beauty unfolding right in front of our eyes.
If I’m being honest, I’ll admit I’m no expert, no guru, and, honestly, there are times I feel I have no idea what I’m doing. But I have found there to be so much joy in this journey.
And I hope to absorb and appreciate as much of it as I can.
A version of this first appeared on Tales from the Poop Deck. Photo: Katie Moum on Unsplash
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