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Looking Through the Rear View Mirror

Adjusting our rear view mirror is something most of us take for granted when we drive. In real life, however, checking out what's in our past can help direct our path going forward.

Two of my eight children have their driver’s licenses, and two more are currently learning how to drive.  The entire process from permit to road test has provided me more excitement than one human being should ever be allowed to experience.

Like the time I nearly flossed my teeth with a six-foot pine tree that my daughter decided to invite through the passenger window, or when my son didn’t know quite what to do at his first rotary (I believe he referred to it as a rodeo) and we circled it about six times before he bravely yielded the right of way to himself.

There is a learning curve that comes with teaching a child to drive — every child is different, and every parent’s ability to handle being the passenger when items like guardrails and jersey barriers are sometimes a little too close for comfort varies as well. However, I still believe there are plenty of advantages to having a new teen driver in the house.

I haven’t had to go out and buy milk in years, there’s often help picking up a younger sibling at practice, and once they can drive, they are able to go out and look for a part-time job!

Another advantage is the fact that I’ve paid much more attention to my own driving skills, and I’m happy to report I’m a much more responsible driver now than I was before my oldest got behind the wheel. After all, kids model what they see!

We live in a busy neighborhood where traffic moves a little faster than many of us would like. I am forever preaching to my young drivers to please check and double check their rearview mirrors before backing out. 

So far, they’ve proven to be pretty good drivers, minus the few times I was jolted from my seat due to a mix-up with the gas and brake pedals.  Other than that, they have all taken care to check things meticulously before leaving the driveway.

Recently, my daughter spent more time than usual adjusting the rear view mirror. I didn’t think much about it until I went to drive later that day to take the kids back-to-school shopping and had to readjust the mirror. 

It’s usually such a rote task, but I remembered how much time my daughter had taken earlier and it really made me pause.  The function of a rear view mirror is for safety purposes, and when used properly you get a clear view of what’s behind you before you move forward. 

Forward for our family right now means gearing up for the new school year. We’re coming off a very hot and humid summer.  I know this because when there is moisture in the air, I automatically sport a hair do similar to George Washington’s, so when I hear the late-summer crickets serenading us at the approach of a dusk and those crisper, clearer evenings start to make their appearance more often, I can’t help but get filled with nostalgia.

Whether you have kids or not, the transition from summer to a more structured fall routine has multiple opportunities for all of us, and the rear view mirror got me thinking about how special this time of year is to me.  (And no, it’s not because I’m sending my kids back to school, really!)

The seasons are about to change and the temperatures will meld from balmy to cozy with brilliant hues that will dazzle all the senses.  As this happens every year, it stirs my heart and soul and always sends me back to my past.  Like with the rear view mirror, when autumn arrives it makes me stop and look carefully back on things I’ve accomplished.

This year in particular I had lots to ponder.  It was just last year at this time that my last child left for all-day kindergarten, and I became the owner of six free hours per day! 

Oh, the grand plans I had for those 30 glorious hours a week.  I was going to redecorate my entire house, walk five miles per day, write my novel, take lots of hot bubble baths, reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in years, finish my eight kids’ scrapbooks, and attend lots of personal field trips that wowed my creative fancy.  And that was all before the holidays!

I think I set my sights a little high for accomplishing so much, because not much of that list got done, but something wonderfully unexpected did happen instead. 

I found a kindred spirit that enjoys writing and all things literary as much as I do, and we spent the past year going on what we fondly refer to as “literary adventures.” This has included meeting and dining with New York Times’ best-selling authors, attending spirited book talks and signings, perusing fabulous book stores, and having a fantastic time discussing our joy of writing.  I never saw it coming, but now looking back, I feel tremendously grateful because these adventures have really fueled my passion.

I’m so happy my daughter took her time when she was adjusting the rear view mirror.  It made me realize that it’s healthy to stop and look back on the past as long as the focus is on how and where we are going when we move forward.

On that note, I invite you to join my literary adventure partner and I as we launch our new blog, The Writer’s Crate, a blog devoted to our quest to write where we hope to inspire those of you who have a similar passion.

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