Honoring the Signs
One recent Sunday I went running along the bluffs overlooking the beach when a modern-day Rockwell scene stopped me in my tracks. About 40 yards beyond a big sign warning “No Vehicles Allowed Beyond This Point” sat a Jeep Cherokee, its wheels buried in mud. Two teenage boys stood between the car and the sign, staring at their feet as a tow truck operator worked to extricate their car. A policeman was there as well, and he and I shared a Can-you-believe-it look.
On my way down the trail to the beach, I recalled how invincible I felt as a teenager and how I ignored certain rules, confident I'd avoid any consequences. It slowly dawned on me that, while I initially looked at the two teenagers as being supremely foolish, I still had the capacity to be just like them. I'd like to think I'm nowhere near as rebellious as in my youth, but I can still be amazingly stubborn about looking past all sorts of warning signs. How many times have I agreed to participate in some event when I'm already cursing an overbooked schedule? Or why is it that with an aching back, I'll work out, anyway, thinking that I can "just push through it"? Ending up out of commission for a week. And the fact is, I have a lot more riding on my poor decisions than when I was a teenager. I have a husband and kids that depend on me. When I don't eat properly and get a headache or don't get enough rest and become a complete grouch, hasn't my family exchanged the same sort of what's-up-with-that glance that I shared with the policeman?
Oh, I've grown up some. I recognize sooner when I'm acting out or behaving recklessly. I don't seek the excitement of precarious situations the way I once did. But what's important for me to remember is that what I do has far greater meaning to my kids than what I say. They are going to drive past signs and get their wheels stuck in the mud. It's part of growing up. But as their mother, it's important that I'm in my tow truck, ready and able to help them out, rather than stuck in my own patch of mud.