April 26, 2009

Taking a backseat to get the best seat

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Growing up, my older brother and I would fight over who got to sit in the front seat of the car. Mom would announce that we were off to run errands, go to the store, head to school - or whatever required the drive - and we would start vying for that front seat spot. That front seat with the fantastic view. The prime market of four wheels - the seat occupying the closest space to mom, the radio, air conditioning vents blowing in your face, the front windshield - and a cornucopia of sights and sounds that sitting in the backseat did not offer. Eventually, Mom would have to break up the ruckus and announce who would sit with her on the "way" and who would sit with her up front on the way "back". The "chosen" child who had gained the "way" privilege (or in child lingo "the winner") would quickly take their rightful place in the front seat before Mom changed her mind. The other would sulk, pout, and make a slow entry to the backseat. The place where side window views and the red pleather from the backside of the station wagon bench would absorb the fiery death rays we would shoot at our sibling.

Something about being forced to "miss out" on any part of life that might be happening from the front seat was abysmal to me at that age. The thought of not sitting up front and experiencing all the fortunes that this place of honor held on any given day...well, it made me shrivel with envy from my backseat spot.

As the years went by, and we became teenagers - two kids became four and sibling rivalry took its own backseat in our home. We were spaced apart by many years and were much more intent on taking in the privacy of the backseat rather than competing to ride up front. We started rushing to the back of our family van - plunging into a book or Walkman to escape into our own world of adolescent mish-mosh. My parents obliged - probably happy for peace - and busy with their two youngest additions.

When I got my license, my Dad generously gifted me with a used family vehicle. It was a red pickup and I loved it! From that moment, I resumed riding in the front. I had earned a permanent spot - and I was proud of it. I grew up, went through a few more cars - and eventually got married. All the while enjoying my glory days riding "up front".

And so this is how it all began, and tells the history of my wanting to be up front, have the best view, the best spot, the best air, and the best company along side me.

When we journeyed to Ethiopia last May, I had two things on my mind as we left our home. My beloved pets - who I fretted and mooned over, and my personal comfort on the trip. I know what you're thinking...it's ok. I'm actually thinking it too. Wouldn't I have more important things on my mind at a time like that? One would hope...

But I was living in the front seat. Living for myself and no one else. Living for the view and unaware of what lay ahead. In some ways, blissfully unaware.

I was concerned about the kind of seats we would have. Would we be comfortable? Would we be able to sleep? Would we like the food? Would we like where we were staying? Would we be safe? How would we get around? What kind of car would we end up in?

Seems shallow in a way, doesn't it?

It's not that I didn't think about our son. I did. Excessively. But only in as much as I could get my head around it. After that, I just reverted to my own personal front seat.

But then a baby boy was placed in my arms by a woman I had never met or seen before, in a strange land that I had never been to before but had only seen in pictures, and I in my severe jet lag and exhaustion and overwhelming emotion jumped into the backseat of my life before I knew what had hit me.

Willingly. Lovingly. Without care. Without hesitation. I climbed over into the backseat for the first time in my life.

I left my front window view, my air conditioning, my cushy seat, my leg room and all that goes with sitting upfront - and I made haste to get to the backseat.

You see, from that moment (and subsequently, all the moments from then to now and into all my tomorrows) - as long as I'm his mom - I'm going to willingly sit in the backseat. It's in the fine print of the owners manual - apparently, the backseat it where all the truly best stuff is.

And it's the most wonderful view from the backseat. I can see his life, his happiness, his sweet face and his smile. I can see all the things I want for him and all the things he can become. And more than I want my view up there, more than I want all those perks of having everything for myself...I want them for him.

As far as I can tell, I've got the best seat and it's actually quite comfortable back here. Not always as roomy or air-conditioned, or as fabulous as the front seat was - but I lived up there long enough to know that it's my time to sit back and let someone else ride up front.

Someday, maybe I'll find that he's hopped in the back with me...on this road of parenting, and we'll be looking at who he's riding in the back for.

My hope is that he'll say "hey Mom, it's not so bad after all, here in the backseat, is it?"

No son, it's not so bad...it's the best seat I've ever had.


Valerie said...

You are so right my friend, and there are days I feel like I'm in the trunk. :-)

Love you.

Linda said...

Wonderful post.. At my age I feel the back seat has the most interesting people in it..the Grandkids and it is more fun . Thanks for putting things in such a great light... To every thing there is a season... I've had the front seat and kicking it in the back is just fine with me.... Linda

Mya said...

Beautiful post Christy!

Diana said...

You hit the nail on the head with this post!!!
You are soo GOOD!! I talk about cr@p on my blog and you have insite on yours!!!

Stefan Bauschard said...

That was so well written. You should try to publish that post. ~Holly

Mom said...

Sweetie, this was such a beautiful post. You have such a touching way with words that it is hard to stop reading, I always want more. You really do need to take everyone's advice and publish your posts. Thank you for such enjoyable reading.
I love you!

AW said...

This is beautiful. Perfectly written and oh so true!

Kelly & Todd said...

I couldn't agree more with the comments above - you really need to look in to publishing this. You have such a talent writing. I think this post was one of my favorites and I can't wait until it's my turn to climb in the backseat.

Thanks for sharing -- kelly :-)