When I was learning to drive, one of the first things my dad taught me to do was to let go of the wheel a little bit.
When you first get behind the wheel of a car the temptation is to wrap your fingers around the steering wheel and hold on tight. As you begin to drive, feeling the weight and momentum of the car around you, it is easy to feel out of control. You tense up, feet poised over the pedals, legs bent rigidly under the wheel. You brake too hard and turn too sharply. You do whatever you can to keep the car going straight.
But before long you realize that driving is not about holding the wheel steady and staying on course. Instead, it’s about constant adjustment. A million forces tug and pull at the car as you drive – road conditions, traffic, tire pressure, wind, rain, etc. You are always responding, always adjusting. Driving demands an incredible amount of attention and the ability to endlessly take in information, act and react. There is really no way to learn to do it well, except by just doing it.
Driving and parenting share this quality. At first, we are floored by the weight and responsibility of becoming a parent. Instead of thousands of pounds of rubber and steel, we hold in our arms a few slight pounds of flesh and bones. But the emotions can feel remarkably similar. We feel out of control, humbled by our child’s cries, their smiles, their strength and simultaneously their fragility. (more…)