It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon. My kids have fallen asleep in their back car seats, my husband sits beside me reading something on his phone, the soundtrack of the movie Pride and Prejudice softly fills the car as I drive along the Lake Leman.
I have a learner’s driving license. I’ve booked a driving test in early December, which means I have seven weeks left to practice. Here I am, practicing driving with my whole family.
I’ve had a learner’s license for nearly two years. In an ideal world, I would have passed the driving test and earned a real driving license. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the test last winter when I was nine months pregnant with our second baby. Disappointed, I decided to temperately put the driving practice on the shelf, focus on the coming labor, and the transition from a family of three to four.
However, I didn’t know the following year would be a pandemic year. I didn’t expect the semi-locked down of the whole country or the quarantine of most parts of the world. The driving practice was the last thing on my mind. It was buried under nursing the baby for months, feeding the toddler, keeping my family from sickness, and the shortage of supplies.
By the time the restrictions and the lockdown loosened up in Switzerland, I had fully recovered from giving birth. However, I found myself resisting the idea of practicing driving and many excuses to justify it.
First of all, I have fears, especially driving on the highway and switching lanes, even though I know it is perfectly normal for a learner’s license holder and can only be overcome with more practicing.
Secondly, by Swiss law, I need an experienced driver to be in the car supervising me when I drive. And that person would be my husband. We don’t have a baby sitter, so we have to bring two kids to the car whenever I drive, and that made me nervous.
Thirdly, since my husband needs to work, it’s not easy to find the free time for him to sit in the car and preferably, an hour when the kids aren’t fussy.
So my argument was, I’m afraid of driving, it’s not safe for the kids, we don’t have time for it, and it’s overwhelming!
Guess where will this lead? It will lead to the expiry date of my learner’s license. When it comes, I will have to go through the theory classes and tests all over again to get another learner’s license and practice driving to pass the driving test, just like what I’m doing now, or I will never get a driving license.
I have spent a lot of money on tests and driving lessons. I’ve gone too far to give up trying. So I picked up my scattered pieces of courage and glued them together with some grit and faith, and here I am, driving.
I let the window down half-way and let in some breeze as I’m driving 70 km/h, passing by the suburb fields. I feel good, less nervous than before as I’ve picked up driving practice for about two weeks. I’ve been practicing the 90-degree head-turning, the speeding up on a highway ramp, forming the habit of watching for the various road signs, etc., and getting more confidence.
The other day, a good friend of mine who lives in Perth, Australia, asked her friends on Facebook if anyone is learning driving after 30 because she is. I eagerly raised my hands and complained to her about bringing my whole family for each driving practice. She replied, “I have to take my whole family for driving too. It’s good! Because it’s real-life after you get the license!” All of a sudden, I felt so much relieved from my “difficult situation.”
Not only did she remind me that I’m not alone, but also she prodded an illusion or a false goal, I didn’t intend to buy-in. I held my goal of getting the driving license too close to my face that I lost sight of the vision of driving my family around. That’s why I saw having my children in the car as a burden because their safety concern and the extra work of installing them to the car seats added more inconvenience to my practice, thus hindering me from reaching my goal of getting the license.
I failed to see what life will be after I get the license and forgot that the reason to get the license was that I wanted to drive my kids around, just like how I’ve been practicing with them. Having my family in the car shouldn’t be an excuse for not practicing driving, but quite the contrary, it should be my motivation because I get to taste what life will be like when I get my real license.
I take a deep breath as the cool fresh air touches my face. The quivering reflection of sunshine illuminates the lake on my right side, and the alps from afar have been painted a white top. Kids are still in their dreams while my husband is enjoying the view. I’m driving. I’m glad I get to do it.
I wonder how often we lose sight of the real vision and forget the “why” of our goals. We fail to understand that the ordinary, even challenging moments in the process are the indispensable preparation for us to reach the goal and ultimately live out our vision. When we are too caught up in the set-goals and desire to get there as fast as we can, we tend to short-cut the process and avoid the intensity and difficulty on the way. That’s not real life. That doesn’t lead to real, steady growth either.
I finally realized that there is no short-cut for me to offer safe rides to my family but driving them as much as I can. When the work is hard, and fears creep in, tackle it anyway.
Dear friend, let us not be fooled by our goals, but always remember why we set them up in the first place.
PS: Pray for me that I would get my driving license in December! I will keep you updated! 🙂