While backing my minivan out of my garage last week, I clipped my side-view mirror and it broke. Some of my kids were in the car – they were aghast. No worry, I assured them. It was an accident. Clearly I did not intend to cause damage to my car. Yes, it is a nuisance, a financial burden, and an inconvenience. But it is not the end of the world.
Sure, it takes age and experience to react this way. In my younger days I would have been more upset and agitated. I would have been reluctant and full of trepidation to tell my husband. Not anymore. This 50-plus year old is confident and liberated when it comes to dealing with life’s foibles. I didn’t mean to hurt my car, I explained to my kids. Like scraping your knee or cutting your finger – these things happen. Yes, I’ll have to eventually replace my mirror, although fortunately I can still use it. But for now it’s just one of life’s scars, a boo-boo if you will.
I was on a roll…what a great analogy for life to pontificate to my kids about on the way to school. Scars are evidence of a life lived. It’s easier to cope with life when things go smoothly but it is the trying times that truly test your mettle. Mustering up grace in the face of adversity is a difficult life-skill to master. I could leave the car in the garage and never drive it – then it would never have dings, scratches or bird-poop splotches. What would be the good of having a car? The same thing applies to life. You can sit in your house and be fearful of experiencing new things, failure, meeting new people or going outside of your comfort zone. Or, you can get out there and live.
So when I picked up my kids that day, they said, “Did you tell Dad about the car?”
“Of course I did – I’m not scared of him,” I assured them.
Okay, I was not exactly chomping at the bit to tell him about the car. However, over the course of our marriage, I have developed a system of communicating bad news that has worked quite well. I would email my husband about potentially difficult topics – getting caught speeding by hidden traffic cameras, ordering drapes that I loved that happened to be exorbitantly priced – so that he could digest and process my news before reacting. As the years have gone by, and we have both been busted by those dreaded traffic cameras, I need to use this tactic less frequently. I just speak to him directly. He wasn’t thrilled about the broken car mirror but he understood it could happen to anyone. Now, when we see the dreaded notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles in the mail, my husband will wonder aloud who has gotten the speeding ticket. One came just this week. I quickly confessed that I thought it was me and predicted exactly where and when it occurred. What could have been a tense and uncomfortable situation had now became a game of recall called “where was I caught speeding?”
So my side-view mirror is partially shattered, but usable. Actually, I kind of enjoy seeing the prism and distortion it creates when I glance at it – it brings a little surprise/psychedelia to the banality of my chauffeur duties. I might as well enjoy the trip until I get it fixed.