My teenage son and I stand in the seemingly endless line at the DMV.
I loathe this place. The lines, the inefficient way it’s run — by no fault of the actual employees — and the long, long, long wait just drives me nuts. I hate feeling like I’m wasting time.
When our number is finally called, I march over to my appointed window. I want to get my business done and get on with my life.
The gentleman at the counter is surprisingly so nice, but I don’t have time for nice. I’m not interested in small talk or civility, I just want to follow his instructions and hightail it outta there.
Sign here, sign there…
Check, check and almost done.
The nice man looks at me and says, “Okay, this form needs to be filled out in order for him…” he points to my son, “to take his driver’s test.”
He slides the paper across the counter, “Go ahead while I go check on something.”
Yes, sir! Give me that bad boy. I’m the Fastest Form Filler-Outer ever. Almost 20 years as a military and medical wife have given me mad skills.
I’m ripping through that form so we can get on with life while my handsome son simply stands there looking oh so pretty.
“What on earth are you doing?” The nice man has returned. Looking over the top of his glasses, he stares straight at me. Speaking in an I’m-going-to-whip-your-butt voice, he says, “You already have your license.”
He turns, looks at my boy squarely in the eyes and says, “You aren’t about to let your momma fill out that form.”
Inside my head, I thought: Who do you think you are? I birthed this kid. I will fill out forms and do whatever I please. Thank you very much!
While my son stared, all I could do was stutter “Ugh… I, Ugh… He. Ummm…”
The nice man pulled the paper away from me, snatched the pen from my hand, and slid both over to my son.
In less than two seconds, my poise and confidence melted. My shoulders dropped, I bit my lip, and my eyes looked everywhere but directly at him.
The whole time my mind was racing with all the ways to justify my actions.
I totally try in every area to make my kids take care of their own stuff. They do their own laundry. They have chores. My 5-year-old even has to make his own school lunch. Does he know how many times my kids call me “mean”? Per day? Come on nice DMV man. I’m rocking this mom thing… Right?!
Yes, in so many areas, I totally am. But in this case?
I got schooled. He was absolutely right.
In my busy-ness, I was so concerned with being efficient, that I almost missed a chance for my son to learn a skill he is going to need when he’s no longer safely tucked under my protective wing.
It’s these small, seemingly trivial things that hold our kids back from moving forward into the next stage.
You and I undoubtedly fill out forms, make a sandwich, clean the bathroom, pick up clutter, and unload the dishwasher 20 times faster than our kid ever could.
But, our efficiency comes at a cost.
A bunch of little things add up to a bunch of big things. And soon, it’s so much easier for Mommy to do everything while our kids hang to the side looking awesome.
As moms, we love to feel needed. And we often fall into the trap of ‘just doing it ourselves’ — because it’s easier.
So, loosen the grip on your pen. Mom, slide that paper on over.
Intentionally search for ways in your daily routine where your kids have an opportunity to take the lead. Encourage them to be self-sufficient young people and ultimately prepare them for the next stage of life.
Every age comes with a next step. What next step do you need to take in order to loosen your grip and launch your kids forward?