Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

The first time you drove away from home on your own I choked a little on the sharp sense of loss that welled up when I tried to swallow it back down. You turned 16 that same day and walked into the DMV expectantly with every intention of securing the new measures of freedom and responsibility now available to you. I stood beside you at the counter ready to sign the form and pay the fee, silently coaching myself to do my best to roll with all the changes getting your driver’s license would bring.

A few weeks before your birthday you asked me if I was glad I was almost done having to drive you everywhere. At your question, I started missing those days before they were even over. “No, son. I’m not glad. Not yet. Not even a little. I love my time with you in the car.” I loved those times even if some aggravated me and sent me careening toward the outer banks of my sanity.

The last couple of years in the car with you were marked by you staring at the phone glued to your hand and grunting out one-word answers to my queries into how your day had been, what kind of weirdness or goodness had played out. The couple of years before those were marked by wince-inducing genres of music you explored via blasting tracks at full bass over the car speakers and such an abacus-busting number of trips hither and yon I added Taxi Driver to my resumé. The years before those, by you succumbing to motion sickness and deep sleeps during road trips, impromptu jump-ins by your friends, and constant rushing to and fro on four wheels and a prayer.

All the years before those were marked by buckling you into and unbuckling you out of all the right seats in all the proper positions for your size and age. And this new day that dawned, the one when you rolled down your window as you backed out of the driveway to give me a thumbs up paired with a proud smile was marked by having to let you go. By the juxtaposition of my responsibility jarringly ending and yours delightfully beginning.

Your dad and I know you’re about to unfurl further into to your fullest self from the bounty of independence driving yourself is, and we rejoice over how the world as you know it is about to broaden into a wealth of new possibilities afforded to you now that you’ve got wheels. And we welcome all that for you. Of course we do.

You’re our baby though, too, and so on my final day of driving you to school, when I stopped the car and looked over at you and said, “It’s been real, kid,” I meant just that and so much more. I was overcome with emotion at that moment and I worked hard to gift you with not showing it. But there was no way I was going to let 11 years of driving you to school each day and home again, to every practice, to all the games, to every hangout, to each everything, end without at least an ish of pomp and circumstance.

When the time came for me to watch you drive away on your own, I smiled exactly as broadly as you did and I mirrored your thumbs up sign. I did so while painstakingly relying on my self-coaching to keep my tears in check until you drove out of sight. As soon as you rounded the corner though I let the tears flow, unable to hold them back even a breath longer. 

As challenging as that moment was, the days to follow were harder. There were mornings you were up and out of the house before I even realized you were gone, leaving no chance to say goodbye, bid you a great day, or remind you how much I love you.

There were days you’d check in after school asking if you could hang back to toss a football around with your crew or go for a smoothie or run an errand. You have errands now. Errands that used to be ours to tackle as a team. Yes, I detested the ever-replenishing list of to-dos, but now that they’re yours and not ours, I want them back because they equaled time with you.

There were afternoons you’d go straight to your after-school job as soon as the release bell rang and evenings you’d head straight to bed when you got home. All of this meant the whites of my eyes were not meeting yours to the extent they need to, and for this upheaval of the heart, I was not prepared.

Though I knew these days of seeing you off from the kitchen, if at all, instead of the car were hurtling around the bend with unyielding inevitability it’s still somehow startling they’re here. Too soon, and so I’m me reeling. Because time with you in the car was built-in time to connect, stay in tune, and gauge your mood. Driving you was my chance to chat, laugh, tease, pry, inquire, engage, and dive into your life with you. And as you stretch your time away from home to greater and greater lengths on top of the time I lost with you in the car each day, I have to scratch and plot for opportunities to connect with you.

I have to time it just right if I want to catch you before you’re off again. Because you always want to be off again. And I get it. Driving is new and novel, making you feel exuberant and free. I want those things for you. Of course I do. But I still want what we had going together too. And maybe, just maybe so do you. For a few weeks into our new normal, amazingly and out of the blue, you came to me and asked if I wanted to take a ride with you.

I did want to take a ride with you. Of course I did. As I hopped into the passenger seat my coaching kicked in reminding me to play it cool. A beast of a thing to try to do in moments marked by sweet relief and boundless joy, but hold ‘er steady I did, and I doubt you could even tell how much I was already missing riding around with you before we were even through.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jodie Utter

Jodie Utter is a freelance writer & creator of the blog, Utter Imperfection. She calls the Pacific Northwest home and shares it with her husband and two children. As an awkward dancer who’s tired of making dinner and can’t stay awake past nine, she flings her life wide open and tells her stories to connect pain to pain and struggle to struggle in hopes others will feel less alone inside their own stories and more at home in their hearts, minds, and relationships. You can connect with her on her blog, Utter Imperfection and on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Sometimes Love Means Slowing Down

In: Friendship, Kids
Two boys on bicycles riding to park, shown from behind

Think of something faster than a 7-year-old boy on a two-wheel bike. Maybe a race car at the drop of the checkered flag? Perhaps a rocket ship blasting into space? Or how quickly a toddler mom books it out of the house after being told she can have a hands-free hour ALONE in Target. Yes, all of these things are seriously speedy, but I have still never seen anything quite as quick as a boy on a bike on a sunny day with endless open track ahead of him. Until today. Today, my 6-year-old son wanted to ride bikes with...

Keep Reading

I Am a Wrestling Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three young boys with wrestling medals, color photo

As the sun is rising on a frigid winter morning, a brave and determined group of athletes are weighing in at a high school gym. They are physically and mentally preparing for a long day spent at a tournament where they will spend only minutes wrestling, despite the hours they sit and wait all day. Their sport uses offense, defense, and mental strength unlike any other sport. My sons and nephew are wrestlers. They are part of a special team of athletes who work together but compete as individuals.           Their youth team is run by all volunteer coaches with...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading

Dear Busy Sports Mom: It’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mom watching soccer game, photo from behind

My daughter stands on the front porch every morning and waves goodbye to me as I pull out of the driveway to go to work.  She is 11, and recently eye-rolling, long sighs, and tears have become more commonplace in our daily interactions. But, there is also this: “Bye! Have a good day!” she calls to me in the quiet of early morning, neighbors not yet awake in their still dark houses. “You are AMAZING! You got this!” she continues in her little adult voice, sounding more like a soccer mom than a fifth grader.   Her hair is still a...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Raising You Right Is Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
little boy walking in sunlit field

You were the baby who slept nights. You were the infant who quietly stacked blocks one on top of the other. You were the toddler who watched other kids go down the slide at the park 20 times before attempting it yourself. You were the preschooler who hunkered down quietly and patiently when meeting your grandmother’s chickens. So I assumed you would be a gentle boy. And you are.   And yet, now that you’re eight, I’m beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I had my first inkling that day when you were five...

Keep Reading

Are You Watching?

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl playing goalie at soccer practice, color photo

I brought a book to my 7-year-old daughter’s soccer practice. To be honest, I was looking forward to one hour of time when I didn’t have to do anything but sit. No one would be asking me questions, and no one would need anything from me. I wasn’t in charge. So, I set up my lawn chair, got cozy, and opened the book. But then I happened to glance up as it was her turn to run a drill. The coach was passing each kid the ball for them to kick into the goal. She stepped forward, kicked, and made...

Keep Reading