Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Exclusive! Book Excerpt!



Driving Miss Crazy
We make a lot of assumptions—and assume that we must find solutions—based on personal experience and cultural norms.  For instance, we might assume that a single person is not single by choice so we'll encourage them by trying to play matchmaker.  Or we might assume that a childless woman is just that because she can't have children, not because she chooses not to.  Or that something must be done to get that reclusive widow back out into the world because, well, she just couldn't be happy being on her own all the time.
One of my favorite stories that demonstrates this tendency is when my second son was four.  My mother had recently died—much too young—and our family had all attended her memorial service.  Back at home a few weeks later I was working in the kitchen and Kyle was playing quietly alone not far away.  Then suddenly he approached me.  "Mama," he began his query, "Nana was your mama, right?"  "Yes," I replied.  "And Nana died."  "Yes," again.  I could almost "see" the wheels of his little brain working on this human algebraic equation.  So next, logically, "So that means you don’t have a mama."  "No, not anymore."
The sheer emotional weight of that conclusion must have been sinking in as he remained silent for a while.  Then, suddenly and brightly he bounced back.  "I know!" he exclaimed, as though he had been called upon to find a solution.  And he had.  He had ticked off in his mind all the potential "mama" figures that were left to us: his GeeGee (his father's grandmother) and his Gramma (his father's mother) were still alive and available for the job.  "GeeGee can be daddy's mama and Gramma can be your mama!"  And with that he mentally rubbed his hands together as if to announce that the problem was solved, the problem that only a four-year-old could truly appreciate: no one should be without a mama.
I think this phenomenon is responsible for the numbers of people who feel the need to suggest solutions to my not driving.  The assumption is that from their perspectives not being able to drive would be a fate worse than death and therefore I must have the same outlook.  They also assume, presumably!—that I'm not driving because I just hadn't thought about the solution that they are about to put forth.
I am reminded of the day that I announced to a dear friend (a woman who is 10 years my senior and whose children were entering college when mine were just entering school) that I was pregnant with a little surprise—our fourth child.  I was shocked by the intensity of her irate response and the venomous attack on the supposed irresponsibility of my husband!  In a word, she was furious at him for doing that to me!  Later she revealed the cause of her anger—she had responded not as she would as my friend but as if it were she who was again pregnant.  Projecting herself into my situation, ten years older and thoroughly done with raising children, she naturally had severe anxiety which manifested itself in rage.
So it seems to be with my friends who would empathize with my predicament.  Now I know you all mean well.  And I know you might just find this hard to believe.  But I just don't miss driving!!  Really I don't!  I'm not just saying that because I can't and I don't see any solution to the problem.  I really don't mind it.  I know!  I'm surprised to hear it coming from my own lips but it appears to be true for me.  It is rare that I feel trapped by not being able to hop into my car and drive any where I wish.  I feel quite content to be driven where I need to go, perhaps in part because I don't feel a need to go too many places.  I especially don't feel a need to go where your kind advice is driving me!
Recently I've begun to have dreams about driving—or contemplating driving—and then remembering that I can't.

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