The conflict of a life with two owners

The Joyes of Life with Yvonne Joye

I am drowning in worry. After work on a Friday evening, my son wants to drive the length of the country to join his buddies in celebrating a 21st! And I am drowning in worry.

He has been driving for a couple of years now, he has his full driving license and this is not his first cross-country jaunt. He is a good kid, doing good stuff, paying his own way and keeping an eye on his studies; a good kid who is not a kid at all but by any standard a young man.

Still he is my young man and no matter how much he matures or how much facial hair he grows he is still my kid. He is my heartbeat too; a heartbeat that stops every time he shoots off down the country in his small car that is no match for the trucks on the road.

I should have paused a while before teaching him to drive; it would have given me more years without this new worry. It is like I have jettisoned myself back to when he was three years old when he had all the abilities and skills of an older child but was still only three years old.

Today he is an adult but as a mammy I want to scream he is merely a fledgling one. Every road-death, every ad campaign and every tragedy statistic rolls through my brain on a loop. All those lost belong to someone; all those gone are someone else's heartbeat too.

When I was younger and my kids were younger, I thought older people like me with older kids like mine were sorted; that in delivering independence to their children, their own freedom was retrieved. And there is truth in that; as a driver my son is good to offer lifts, he is willing to facilitate coffees in rustic settings and he does his bit in servicing the sports schedules of his siblings. I guess I cannot take the smooth without having to accept the rough too.

I think of the time when I dropped both my boys off to do their Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams, which they did in the same year. As I watched them walk away from me towards an exam that is all about judgement, I made my own judgement; motherly bias notwithstanding l judged my two boys along with all the other boys walking in the same direction to be successes already. Results, certificates, diplomas or degrees are nice decorations but here were kids who got up every day, put on their uniforms and got out into the world whether they felt like it or not. There might not be plaudits for the mundane but the mundane delivers bouquets.

The mundane also delivers conflict; I will do my best to stop him driving the length of the country after work on a Friday night. My best. But I know I have to concede that despite him forever belonging to me, he is now very much his own man.


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