You Are Driving Me Beautiful

How many times have you said to your child, “You are driving me crazy”?  My husband and I used to say it a lot, it was just an easy, flippant remark we would say to either each other or our kids. “Stop it,” “You’re driving me crazy,” and so on. These were once regular conversations in our household. While not the best phrase to use, life was chaotic at the time with two little ones in diapers who were always running in opposite directions. Then, one day, we consciously decided to stop saying it. For us, the phrase was too loaded and too filled with negative connotations; repeating this over and over made it out to seem like mental illness was something that could be taken lightly.  

My daughters were verbal at a young age. They spoke well before they could comfortably walk, and they always have had a terrific sense of humor. It was during these early years that my husband and I would put them in the car for long drives just to have some peace and quiet. We did not necessarily need them to fall asleep, but we needed them strapped in, strapped down and somewhat content. We would travel all over the place just to keep them from causing themselves harm or destroying the house. It was a very funny time for us, when the car itself was an escape: the “escape vehicle.”

During one “escape drive,” my husband was driving, the girls were fighting over something silly, and my oldest says to her younger sister, “Stop! You are driving me beautiful!” Clearly, she had confused our “driving me crazy” with something that made sense to her. While it turned out to be a very clever and lovely phrase, we realized that our children retained things in big ways, and that they could use their newfound knowledge in the correct context. At the time, this was mind blowing, and it also made us feel incredibly uncomfortable knowing that we had inadvertently taught them something unkind.  

“Driving me beautiful.” This phrase also could be interpreted as potentially controversial. “Beautiful” is a word we have chosen not to use with our daughters about their looks.  Although I think they are beyond beautiful, my reason is not based on their outward appearance, but instead is based on how incredibly sensitive, loving and thoughtful they all are.  “Driving me beautiful” has become a kind of mantra for us.  When things get icky or uncomfortable, we say it and know that we were in fact learning and growing from that particularly difficult moment. We are stronger for it, and the experience will make us more beautiful. 

Fast forward 8 years. As a family, we still use this phrase. That being said, my 11-year-old does not always appreciate its use. In fact, as I write this she has told me that she hates “driving me beautiful,” but she said it with smile, so I can take this as a small win.

As a parent, we should always be willing to grow, change and learn to embrace the minor mistakes we make with our kids.  What had started as a negative comment and grew into a potentially uncomfortable situation, has instead became a family mantra that we cherish.

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