Monday, April 14, 2008

Freedom

Today, in a valiant but futile effort to make a difference for the environment and my thighs, I rode my bike to school. Usually I drive myself, but the weather was warm and I felt the urge to enjoy the fresh air. It was a new sense of freedom.

I thought back to when I would do anything to have the liberty to drive and have a car all my own. Now I try to avoid driving whenever possible, but when I was fifteen, a license was a ticket to freedom.

But freedom isn’t free. I was forced to journey across student parking to a portable out in the boonies, sit through a class that was a stale as the residue on a McDonald’s counter, copy word for word out of the driver’s handbook, and watch hypnotizing videos.

I didn’t really learn anything from class, but I did learn a lot on the road. My driver instructor was named Coach Buchanan and even though he was married, a lot of girls secretly were in love with him. He was cool… he used his cell phone in class and turned on the hottest hip-hop in the driver’s ed. cars. He coached, of course, as well as taught driver’s education.

Vani and Halden were my driving mates. We began at stark different levels of experience. I don’t know if was just because he was a boy and had natural abilities or he had spent hours of pre-permit practicing, but Halden was drove so well I wondered if he was a NASCAR driver in training. He didn’t necessarily make you feel comfortable while he was driving, but you could tell by the way he handled corners and accelerated that he wasn’t afraid of the road. Vani didn’t have any experience until our first day driving. But by the time I got used the jerking, she had improved a lot.

Then there was me. I’d practiced a little with my parents but that was all. Coach Buchanan would tease me and ask, “Now, what’s the gas pedal for?” And I would answer, over Vani and Halden’s chuckles from the back seat, “to accelerate.” I guess I was a little white-knuckled.

As much as a learned about turn-lanes and passing and putting on the blinker three seconds before you turn, I learned a lot about life. Buchanan may have been on of the most popular teachers in school, but he wasn’t an airhead. He didn’t like us to sit in silence and listen to the grinding beat of the hip-hop radio. One day, when we were doing freeway driving, he brought up a perplexing question, directed to us girls.

“What if your husband tells you he doesn’t want you to be a working mother?”

At first I was very defensive. I said that I would never marry someone that wouldn’t let me be myself and live my dreams of being successful. I could never love someone that asked me to stay at home and live a dreary life of a house wife. My mom worked, but I had to say she was there most of the time for us. Vani said she also supported women working.

Buchanan wouldn’t take that for an answer. “But what if you DO marry someone like that?” I struck back that I wouldn’t, but he persisted. “What if you do?”

We talked for a while, and I dug myself deep into a hole. I mean, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how wrong I actually was. Staying at home probably wasn’t so bad, and what if your husband wanted to provide for the family all by himself? But I couldn’t back out now. For the rest of the drive I argued my case.

Ever since that experience I’ve thought more and more about being a woman in the workforce. As for now, I’m still looking forward to having a career, but there are some things more important than a job, and that’s kids. Overtime I made the conscious decision to be as successful as I can be, but the best work I do will be within the walls of my own home.

I’m in high school – ya. Its weird I think so far ahead in the future, but isn’t that why we come to school? To learn about life, make decisions, and decide who we want to be. Trig identities are cool, but I think perspective is just as important. So in my quest for freedom on the road, I learned that about freedom in life and what’s really important. Stay-at-home mom a constricting job? No way.

4 comments:

Phases said...

lol. I love it. So true about drivers ed. Actually there's this book that will teach you a lot, too, actually called drivers ed. Read it if you get the chance!

August Early said...

i'll have to check it out. lol thanks!

skittlesboy said...

I thought Coach Buchanan was an airhead but that's ok. I think it's good that you've decided it would be ok to be a stay at home mother. My mom stayed at home for 15 years or so and she loved it. She still sometimes wishes for the days when she could garden and all the stuff that now conflicts with work. I know personally sometimes it would be nice to have my mom home more ofte, but I'm glad she's doing something she loves.

marathonmom said...

Being a mom is not just the most important work it is also the most rewarding. It brings me my greatest joy. I am also glad that I have a flexible career (my own business) that allows me to put my family first. There is a lot of security in having skills that are marketable.