Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Setting An Example…your adult children are still watching

When our children are young, we tend to be more mindful of the examples we set. We try to walk the talk, to provide leadership and set the tone for identifying and solidifying value systems.

When our children grow up we assume they’re no longer watching, or at the very least they are too busy with their own lives to take note. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Your children never stop paying attention; they just get better at filtering their reactions (or they blog about you).

My mom is experiencing a lovely little midlife crisis. She’s reached THE point. You know what I’m talking about…that point-in-time we all look forward to. The point-in-time when life should become more about “Me” than about “You”. The point-in-time that’s supposed to compensate for the laugh lines and silver hair we accumulate while raising children, working like dogs and worrying about every little thing.

It’s time for my mom to have more fun, to focus on herself (and her grandchildren of course). To celebrate her arrival at mid-life, she bought a Spyder.




Spyders are motorcycles with three wheels and I must say these things look like an absolute blast. (I want an early midlife crisis just so I can cruise around on one of these). Three wheels are safer than two, you can put groceries in the trunk and two people can ride together comfortably. I bet the gas mileage is also awesome. But these mean machines require drivers to have a motorcycle license. 



My mom had her name on a production waiting list for eight months before she could bring home her little bundle of chrome and thrills. When it finally arrived, my mom headed to the Department of Motor Vehicles to take the written test and acquire a shiny new license to accompany her shiny new mean machine. In a strange twist of events and a completely non-mom-like fashion, she must have come down with one of those viruses we all get in high school the night before a big test and she didn’t have the proper motivation to study. She failed the test. Yes, that’s right. She failed her motorcycle license test.

Let’s back up 20 years.


When I was 16 and tested for my driver’s license, I failed TWICE. On my first attempt I actually hit a parked car trying to parallel park (God, that’s still embarrassing), and I think I aimed for a little old lady in the cross walk on my second attempt. After failing TWICE, I was hiding my head in shame. Of course all my friends knew. My family was laughing. My boyfriend thought I was an idiot, I’m sure. 

My parents simply told me to get over myself, to practice more and to go take the test again. Continuing to fail wasn’t an option. If I tried hard enough, if I practiced long enough, if I got my head out of my butt and focused…well, their rationale was that I’d eventually pass the damn test. They were right and the third time was the charm.

Fast forward 20 years…

…and we’re doing a 180 degree turn (strange how life does that).


My mother failed her motorcycle license test. “OK,” I’m thinking, “this not a big deal. Just review the book and go take the test again.” But no, not Mom, she’s forgotten that her kids are still watching. She’s forgotten how to walk the talk. She’s hanging her head, and rumor on the family grape vine is that she’s given up…she’s decided to be a passenger instead of a driver. Who does that? Who gives up that easily?

If I or one of my siblings were 14, 15 or 16-years-old and she knew that we were paying attention, would she give up so easily? Of course not. She’d pick up her chin. She’d march herself back out to the D.M.V and take that test again. If she failed again, well, she’d just have to keep taking it until she passed. Remember for a moment…

Continuing to fail wasn’t an option. If I tried hard enough, if I practiced long enough, if I got my head out of my butt and focused…well, their rationale was that I’d eventually pass the damn test.

Why should she expect less of herself than she expects of her children? She never allowed us to quit, and I’m so thankful.

So mom, if you happen to read this, please know that life’s too short and complicated to spend your lovely midlife crisis as a passenger. Please know that I’m still watching. Even though you think you’re done setting an example and that I’m no longer looking to you for guidance, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. Let me pass backward a little bit of advice…”if you think you’ll fail, you will, but if you never try, you’ll never know.”



Please get on that Spyder and show me how much fun it will be when I grow older. Show me how much I have to look forward to, how many memories I’ll continue to make, and that I’ll still be able to surprise myself. Please teach me that no matter how old I get, that no matter how much silver hair I sprout or how deep my laugh lines, I’ll still be able to throw caution to the wind, to hold on tight and to ride hard and fast. Please, Mom. Show me how. I promise … I’m still watching.  




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14 comments to Setting An Example…your adult children are still watching

  • Shiela

    I am watching too. And I am looking forward to your post on how she took that bad boy on a weekend trip through the mountains and had numerous adventures. Go on with your bad-self Mom! Take the test again, you can do it ;)

  • Mickey

    Thank you Tricia Lynn. You said it all. I told her the same thing, but you said it so much better. Okay Donna Marie, bottom line is you need to go for it all!!! Try Try again.

  • Amy

    Go mom! My sister took a great two day class, which ended with the test for her motorcycle license — she says it was wonderful!

  • Kristy

    You can do it mom. I am watching too, as your youngest daughter I am definitely still watching and want the examples set forth that you expect from us every day. Hold yourself to the same standard. You know we are going to ride you until you pass, no big deal if you have to take it again or even again. But it is a HUGE deal if you don’t take the test. LOVE YOU

  • Laura

    Oh Donna love.. you are far tougher than that and we all know it… you also know that until you stand up tall, dust off any doubt, and ride into the sunset with your heald held we will not leave you alone, so you better just study, take the test and go from there… I love you!

  • Lorie

    Hey Donna,
    Hmmmm, I got your number. Will be talking with you.
    Love You.

  • You go Mom! Show the rest of us how to do it once we get these kids out the door. This mama from Washington State is counting on you!! I need to live vicariously through you for a while.

  • donna

    OK, So you force me to respond to all the comments on this blog.
    For all of you to know I have picked myself up and I have made another appointment, and this time I do intend to Pass!!!!
    I will keep you all posted, and I do intend to ride with the wind in my hair “or I mean drive”. Thanks to all for the support. FYI: I made the appointment to do this again the same day that I failed.
    I just needed a moment of self pity. I am over it!!!
    Thanks Tricia, you keep me laughing.

  • Tricia

    Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Chin up, Mom. Keep us all posted. When you get your license, please can I have a ride? We can ride your Spyder to the women’s colony Mrs G is starting. If you haven’t heard about it yet…you need to get up to speed quickly. I have a feeling space is going to sell out and the waiting list will be extreme.

    Now, mom … moving on to that tattoo you keep mentioning…

  • Amy

    Hey this sounds like Dan’s mom, she bought a trike and joined a women’s bike group and then indeed got a tattoo!!!

  • Laura

    I love you Donna! I never doubted for a moment that you would ride into the sunset….

  • Well look at how much fun it is over here!

    Thanks for stopping by via Derfwad Manor. That Mrs. G. is a hoot too.

    I’ll be back again. Glad to meet you.

  • [...] to everyone who left comments here to encourage her, and to family and friends who harrassed her in-person or via e-mail. I know [...]

  • What a great first visit I just had. I’m glad to hear she’s going for it!

    Thanks for stopping by.

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