I’m a fast reader. Usually I zip through books, skimming the “boring” parts (aka descriptions), lingering on dialogue, soaking up the plot. I finish one book then on to the next. Rinse and repeat.
I didn’t used to be so cavalier about books. My grandmother would send us books for birthdays and Christmas. I didn’t always appreciate the stories, but I did appreciate her thoughtfulness. I still have those books, which she always signed with the date and her full name. Because books were difficult to come by—money was tight with seven kids—I hoarded hardbacks, used babysitting money for paperbacks that I read over and over until they were tattered. And because of that, once I could afford books I never let them go.
Our last move to a new house convinced me to divest myself of many books. Unlike in the past where the company paid moving expenses, this one was on our dime. Books are heavy, and we paid by the pound. Our local library became the recipient of free books from several conferences, books I hadn’t gotten around to reading and knew I never would. Except for several all-time and forever favorites plus several for research, my books reside on my Kindle. Easy to carry with me wherever I go. Finish one book at the doctor’s office, go on to the next while waiting.
Consequently, stories don’t stick with me like they used to. For one thing, on my Paperwhite, I don’t see the cover each time I pick up the book. I open the Kindle, and I’m right where I left off in the story. Without the cover reminding me of the title and author, I don’t remember books like I used to.
Every once in a while, a story will stick with me. Case in point, Night Road by Kristin Hannah. I’d chosen the book for our monthly book group. It’s the story of a “helicopter” mom of high school twins. In our discussion, one of the women (close to my age) said things are different from when we raised our children. While I agree—we never had lockdowns at school—I still believe parents have to find a balance between protecting their children while helping them make their own decisions when they are young. Expanding the decision making from little things, like what to wear, to using their own judgement on what to read and, eventually, whether to drink in high school. And letting go.
In Night Road, the main character was so obsessed with protecting her kids that she made all their decisions. (Or so she thought.) But how could they make rational decisions when Mom would disagree and probably ground them?
I wasn’t the best mother nor was I the worst. Like most mothers, I made my share of mistakes. I trusted my children when I probably shouldn’t have. I badgered them about where they were going and who they would be with but didn’t follow through by checking up on them. Was that the right thing to do? To paraphrase a school psychologist at a PTO meeting (way back when), I did the best I could given what I knew at the time.
That’s all we really can do, isn’t it? Fortunately, my children lived through their high school and college years. I survived, too. But a single mistake, a case of bad judgement, changed everyone’s life in Night Road. That could have been one or both of my kids. Scary. Actually, in retrospect, it’s terrifying. I know I can’t live in the past or play the “what if” game with real lives. All we can do is pray that we make the best decisions and live with the consequences.
Diane Burton writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and science fiction romance. She blogs here on the 30th of the month, on Paranormal Romantics on the 13th, and on her own blog on Mondays.