Flying Solo, A Column From A Single Mom’s Perspective

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‘Let’s Go For A Drive’

By Vaishali Sharda @v4vaishali and online at onceuponachaitime.com

Columnist, Masalamommas

Send your questions for Vaishali to Columnists@masalamommas.com

“Let’s Go For a Drive”– five words that cause me to drop everything I’m doing! Going for a drive is an unspoken signal, in fact, a silent pact among my kids and I that they have something on their mind and vice versa.

At a vital time in our lives in which communication and transparency in our words and actions was all but non-existent – it was a blessing when a moment in time forced this upon us. I recall the exact moment when my then 16-year-old son walked into my room as I folded laundry and sat there silently on the edge of my bed.  It had been two years since the divorce. Two years in which my kids had to grow up faster than their peers. In those 2 years, among other struggles, was the break down in our communication. All of a sudden, I wasn’t cool enough to go to places or hang out with.

Every day, normal questions that were previously answered with enthusiasm were now a forced mumble or grunt. I had all of a sudden become their enemy and in their words “ruined their life”. The hugs and “I love you” that were showered upon me unconditionally had now morphed into the glares, eye rolls and “I hate you” daggers seething through the angst filled teen-aged clenched teeth. Yes, this was indeed the payback that all parents at one moment or another wish upon their children. The silent “You’ll see how I feel when your kids do this to you” curse had been fulfilled.

I saw that he was slightly uncomfortable and could see him struggling to say the first few words.  In that moment, all I saw was a little boy who needed his mom.  I broke the ice and asked him what was on his mind, set aside what I was doing and sat next to him.  The exact nature of his question or how that conversation transpired is beyond me today. I do know that day, in that moment- three hours later; we seemed to have talked about everything from school, friends, his dad, my work, our future as a family…and a-ha – girls! Three hours that more than made up for the silent walk by’s past me.

They had now become the gateway to an open door between my son and me.

This newfound relationship was surreal. The challenge however came in the fact that we were living with my mom.  As with any concerned Indian grandmother, she wanted to know what was going on all the time.  My son hadn’t at this point opened up to her as he had me. He felt more comfortable discussing certain matters with me only. He didn’t want to hurt grandma’s feeling by leaving her out of discussions. Instead, he randomly said to me one day: “Mom, let’s go for a drive”.  I sensed a talk coming and immediately stopped what I was doing, grabbed my car keys and said let’s go. My quickness in doing so came from the fear that if this opportunity for him to open passed, who knows what dilemma or turmoil inside his mind would go unresolved. I didn’t want him to not feel comfortable talking to me or think that perhaps I don’t care.  That set in motion a tradition, a trust and a time for a one-on-one moment between my son and me.

To this day, when those five words are spoken by either of us, it’s an automatic signal to not ask questions or argue. More important things to speak about await “the drive”. Sometimes, it may be a drive in silence; a chance to let them collect the hundreds of thoughts that run in the boggled teen-age minds.  At times, they perhaps will sense that I’ve had a rough day and initiate the “let’s go for a drive” knowing that I may just need to get away myself. I’ve learned over the years that quality time with a loved one need not be limited to having a conversation for the time you’re in each other’s company. Sometimes, it’s a more satisfying experience in silence just as well. Whatever the case, I feel giddy and look forward to and welcome a “Let’s Go for a Drive” moment with my boys.

 


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