Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Road Trip

Well, I managed to survive a parental milestone--a son’s first road trip. It wasn’t his first time away from home. He’s gone to camp and traveled to Atlanta and New York City with the high school band. The summer of his junior year, he joined a group of students and teachers in France for two weeks. He’s visited Washington D.C. and gone skiing in Colorado with a friend’s family. And when it came time to select a college, he chose his father’s alma mater, which is 800 miles from home!

So, why did I feel different about this weekend trip to meet up with college friends in Pittsburgh? I suppose it was because he was on his own. We equipped him with a tuned-up car, full of gas, traveler’s checks and cell phone, a good road atlas and pages of Map Quest directions to his various destinations. We knew his itinerary and asked him to call home when he stopped for the night.

Our son is a bright, self confident young man who is well on his way to a life independent of us. I trust his judgment. I admire his strong values. I am confident in his skills as both a driver and navigator. So what was my problem? What was causing my uneasiness besides the typical parental reluctance to relinquish control to her child?

I finally realized what was unnerving me; it’s the world I don’t trust. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, my mother asked me if I wasn’t worried about my son being in college so far from home. “Mom, that could have happened anywhere,” I replied. That’s just the problem! Everyday life is uncertain. It can be dangerous, painful, and ugly and there’s not much I can do to protect my children from that.

My son got home safely after having a great time with friends. It turns out the only problems he encountered were with inaccurate Map Quest directions. The Rand McNally Road Atlas “saved his ass” (his words) several times. That night, I gave him an extra long hug, not because he needed it, but because I did.


  1. I know the feeling well. The worst was putting our (at-the-time) 19 yr old daughter on a plane to spend a year studying and living with a strange family in France. (At the time, they were 'strange' as in, 'we didn't know them'. Turned out, they were just plain strange, too!)
    Glad your son made it back without incident. The first time's always the least on Moms.

  2. I know how you feel~I worry about my 17 & 19 year olds all the time!
    Glad your son had a safe trip.

  3. WOw, you are so brave...I have 2 boys (4 and 1)and I think of the day when they will drive off in to the "world". You seemed to have let him go with grace, I hope that I can too, someday (in a LONG time)