Life in the Middle Lane

As a child I hated going on Interstate trips that involved driving in the middle lane. I remember begging my Dad to drive in the Fast Lane. I was always in a hurry. Obviously the trip was planned out and the Interstate deemed the fasted alternative to arrive at the desired destination. So why not take full advantage of that glorious Left lane and get there faster?

A recent road trip with my Mom brought my former dislike of the Middle lane to mind and a complete shift in my attitude towards it. I’m firmly rooted in my Middle lane. I’m in no rush. I can plan for exits and detours before I have to veer across multiple lanes of traffic. I’ve got a little more control & preparedness of situations. By now you know I’m talking about something greater than a road trip, I’m thinking about my life in the “middle age” bracket. The time where my kids are grown and needing less of my attention while they are making their own way in life while my Mom is slowing down and in more need of my attention for the day to day. It’s an interesting place to be.

I tell folks that raising a Moma is the hardest job I’ve ever had. That’s saying something because up until now I would say being a grief stricken single mother took that position. In my case, my Moma is the definition of an independent woman. I often call her my toddler with car keys and a credit card. She does not like the word NO. I used to think my stubborn streak was something I inherited from my Daddy but now I’m beginning to think it’s more a strong genetic thing direct from the Mother. I should probably add that I’m an only child, a small fact that the world should probably be thankful for. I can’t imagine a whole clan of us running around with this shared temper and set of social skills. The draw back to being that only child is the sharing of “parenting” duties when it comes to raising said toddler with car keys and a credit card.

I remember promising my Daddy that I would look after her when he was gone. I don’t take my promises lightly. I can’t say it’s been easy but she makes it fun. She’s become my best friend. Most of the time if you see one of us you see both. She has her interests and I have mine. We both love our family so much it borders on the ridiculous. We have a shared love of flowers and gardening, so much so that the flower beds have take over all of the mowable yard space. Simple joys. She’s taught me to embrace the simple blessings of life and give all the thanks to our gracious God.

What she’s also shown me is how to transition to the phase of life we’re in now. When I was a child, my maternal Grandmother came to live with us. She would spend a few nights or sometimes weeks staying with other relatives but we were her home base. My parents balanced simultaneously raising a child and a parent with what appeared to be incredible ease. My paternal grandmother and “old maid” aunt lived next door and were also need of daily attention as no one drove. (Wouldn’t Aunt Kath get a kick out of being called my “old maid” Aunt?) I’m in awe of how easy they made all of this seem. Moma and Daddy were just that sort of team. How fitting that I write this on what should be their 59th wedding anniversary.

I’m a little distressed about what the near future holds. Moma has had a few health concerns that we’ve been keeping our eye on. Surgery on the carotid artery is about to be on the immediate calendar. It’s not the trips to the doctors or even the surgery itself but it’s the fact that she’s a worrier that concerns me most, this is the time when she needs to keep her blood pressure down and rest. We’re both doing this little dance not trying to let the other see how serious we feel about this. It’s tough. Once we clear this hurdle we still have heart disease, glaucoma and thyroid issues to monitor.

I see the wisdom in my Father’s choice of the middle lane all those years ago. I’m in no hurry to finish this leg of the journey or even take an exit for a rest area ahead. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t want mile markers to indicate how far we’ve come on our journey that might mean they’d also let me know how many miles are left on this stretch of road. For now I’m simply going to set my cruise control and try and take it all in. My Moma has something she says to all of us “Buckle up, watch your speed and pay attention.” That’s solid advice for my life in the middle lane. Wave if you pass me, honk if you must but please be patient if you get behind me. I’ve never traveled this stretch of road before and I could easily get quite lost.

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