When I was a teacher there was always a day or a week where some organization was having a "No Texting and Driving" campaign. They would tie string on their thumbs to remind themselves of the dangers of texting and driving, hang posters, show videos. The whole she-bang. And it was great. I won't lie and say I've never texted while driving, but those times that I have sent a quick one I usually catch myself thinking, "Kels. You're an idiot. This is so dangerous." So I'm all for those campaigns that remind us that the texting can wait. It can. It totally can.
And then the other day I was driving and I thought to myself, as I plunged my right arm into the cavern of the back of my van while flying down the highway, What is worse: texting while driving or parenting while driving?
I know you've been there. Your littlest one is still rear facing and you are continuously flinging toys to her and she is rapid firing them even further into the back abyss of the van. You dig around, while the semi-truck passes you, and find a few cheerios in the bottom of the diaper bag that are only mildly stale and you sprinkle them over her like a weird, it's-good-for-your-cholesteral christening.
While the baby is pacified for a minute...wait, pacifier? You know that's in here somewhere and you know it will come in handy in a minute so you wait for a straight away and lung most of your body into the back and locate the string-clip it is on and fish the line in and find the pacifier.
And now your toddler is asking for a different book, which is in the seat back of your seat. You once again neglect the 10 and 2 position on the steering wheel and dig out her favorite one. But her songs aren't on and she needs her favorite, "Sing it Again", which you've memorized as number 9 on the track list.
As you're fidgeting with the radio, another cardinal sin of driving, you realize your baby is throwing her stale cheerios at your toddler who is now screaming at you to make the insanity stop. If only you could. You whip the pacifier back to your toddler. Whoops, wrong child. You instruct her to hand it over to her sister, and you watch the transaction in the review mirror which you long ago gave up using as a driver's aid.
"I need to go potty!" you hear over the song playing, and you begin your attack of questions: How badly do you need to go? Can you make it until we get home? Do we need to stop right now? After the interrogation, you're mildly comfortable to continue driving.
But now the blanket-- the favorite, prized, cherished blanket-- has made its way onto the floorboard somewhere. Once again, there is more of you in the backseat than in the driver's seat, and your ab muscles are cramping as you hold yourself at a weird angle, but you're able to procure the blanket.
The baby just fell asleep, so you hand your phone back to your toddler and tell her she can look at some pictures, guaranteeing you at least 7.3 minutes of uninterrupted driving time, at which point you realize you have no idea how you've made it so far down the road and you're only 10 minutes from your destination. I passed the truck stop?, you think to yourself. This thought is terrifying, and you grip the wheel at 10 and 2.
After all, you have precious cargo on board.
And there are some of you that have more kids in the back row of seats! Lord, have mercy.
I was having a conversation the other day with a new mom, and next to us was a mom of three. New Mom was sharing how she had to just pull over when her three month old was crying to get her something to pacify her. I understood. I've been there. And I looked over at Mom of Three, and I said, "I'm guessing you're past feeling the need to pull over?" She said, "Yeah, I just roll the windows down and it takes their breaths away and they stop crying." I about fell out of my seat laughing.
And my last thought on the matter: the car is a mystery to me. Some days I purposely get in the van and just drive somewhere, ANYWHERE, because the girls are mellow and contained when we are driving. But other days, the above happens.
So I pose the question again:
What is worse: texting while driving or parenting while driving?