A Mother’s Perspective

My mother is the sweetest heart on this planet…I kid you not!

That being said…she has always had some reservations about me driving. I’m not entirely sure why. I did not go to driving school right after high school, as most people do, to fill in the months between high school and university. I went after my first year of university. Even then, I can still recall the conversation I had with my mother when I asked her if she would pay for driving school, it went a little like this…

Kathleen: Mum, do you think that this holiday you could pay for driving school so that I finally learn how to drive?

Mummy: Driving school? Are you buying a car soon?

**Le sigh**

Kathleen: No mum.

Mummy: So, what car are you going to be driving?

**Double le sigh**

In the end she did pay for driving school and I got my license. Now, anyone who knows how driving school works in Kenya knows that it is entirely possible to complete driving school, obtain your license and still not be able to drive. This was not the case with me(at least I do not think so), but my mother kept insisting that she would not let me drive on my own until I had had a few practise sessions with a seasoned driver. I asked that this seasoned driver be her, but she was terrified of letting me drive so for the longest time she kept telling me she would organise for someone else.

I went back to school and probably did not drive for a whole year after getting my license. The next time I was on holiday, after my second year, I had a few practise sessions with a cousin of mine but they were few and far between. We were both interning at the time and just had really different schedules. Another holiday passed without me really utilising my license. After my 3rd year, when the holidays came round I resolved that it would now be do or die. I nagged my mum till she finally did get me someone and after daily practise for about two weeks I was finally deemed road-worthy and started venturing out on my own with my father’s car.

My mother, I suspect, still has horrors of being driven by me, so whenever she is around I let her drive, but I am content with having enough confidence in myself to drive myself around. My little brother also says I am a good driver, so yay! Let me just throw in the fact that we are speaking of manual cars over here! Not the straightforward affair that is an automatic auto-mobile. I still attributed my mother’s reservations to just being tightly wound, but I got what I wanted so life moved on.

A few weeks ago, my family and I were visiting family, over the festive season. An uncle of mine is very relaxed about his son driving, his son is about 17 now but I remember him being allowed to drive when he was as young as 13 or 14. Never on major roads, always up-country, within the village, or from home to the shops and back, pretty short distances. I remember my mother once told off my uncle for this but he saw no harm in it.

My under-age cousin whose father let’s him drive has a younger sister who wanted to go to the beach as the older people stayed indoors and talked and made merry. (Yes, yes, I’m also wishing I had named these individuals as I introduced them, but we are already here so I shall just proceed…) I was all for the idea so we hopped into my uncle’s car and went off to the beach, my two cousins, my younger brother and I. I did not mind my cousin at the wheel, he was familiar with the car, had more driving experience than even I did and…well..what could go wrong?

Nothing did. Our trip to the beach was uneventful and soon enough we were back. The gathering we were at dragged on and we decided to head back to the beach. This time, my under-age cousin was letting my younger brother drive. If I had known this, I would have protested but I got into the car last and sitting at the back, I only noticed as we headed out that my brother was driving.

I kid you not, every worst case scenario played out in my head! Fine, the car was automatic so it isn’t that hard to drive, but my brother was 15! He had zero driving experience! I started to think of everything that could go wrong! I started to notice how crowded the streets were, people, animals, children dashing about, hawkers selling all sorts of goods. I was irritated by the lax nature with which it looked to me that my brother was taking this, one hand on the steering wheel, sun glasses on, windows down, looking like he was just feeling cool and not paying attention to what was going on. I nagged on and on…I hope you are checking your side mirrors and rear view mirrors, know what is going on around you! Quit going too fast! Keep to your side of the road. Indicate! Watch out for motor-cycles! Be prepared for anything, this road is very busy.

I kept imagining how I, as the only person of age in the car, would be the one thrown in prison if anything went wrong! That ride was the worst 5 minutes of my life!

It was only afterwards that I realised I had turned into my mother! The few times that I have insisted on driving my mother and she had no choice but to let me, I always felt like she wanted to remind me of everything. Yet my mother is the more mellow one, whenever we got where we were going, in one piece, she seemed pleasantly surprised, as though she had been holding her breathe and saying her final prayers and now she could finally relax.

My mother’s older sister was the less mellow version that I had turned into! I remember my irritation at driving her.

Her constant comments, questions, suggestions, warnings, occasional insistence that I pull over and let her take over…I remember how after that one time I drove her, I told myself I would be a bit more chill with my children, then I thought of how I had done exactly that to my brother and felt a bit more understanding of the fears my mother and aunt must have been having while being driven by me..

Mothers can’t help it. They just love us so much! Sometimes it is manifested in constant nagging even when you think you are doing just fine.


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