Rubber on the Road

By chance, I start reading a new novel — The Father Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri — and I’m back in those young motherhood days I thought would go on and on eternally — changing diapers, mashing peas, carrying little kids. Those days didn’t, of course. The youngest is now learning to drive.

My youngest logs in hours for her driver’s ed class. Sunday morning, we head to Montpelier. She parks in front of the statehouse, and we walk up the enormous granite steps. There’s no one around, save for five joggers decked out in full Santa suits. They wave merrily at us.

We head south along Route 2, through stoplights, towards Barre, talking about green arrows, lane changes, and the rules about turning, or not, on red. I’m giving my daughter a road map. At the same time, she asks questions about her father and where he’s gone. Talking with my daughter, on this sunny Sunday morning, at the end of a November that hasn’t even gotten cold yet, I know there’s so much unknown in all our lives, that the mystery of pandemic and chance and human relationships is a piece of participating in the human world.

Be wary, I caution my daughter. Look before heading into intersections. Read signs. Get out and admire the view from the steps, and wave to the silly Santas, too.

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring

― Shushiki

Photo by Molly S.

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. As the son of an estranged Father I can relate. Somethings must be learned first hand for some people. Parents, even the estranged, are a part of you. The truth is that if a parent is gone it is usually due to their own shortcomings, yet often the children bear the guilt. Younger children often have more complex feelings because they have fewer memories of the absent parent and more room to create myths. It is a hard messy world we live in and guiding our children to see the truth, even when it is not what they would like to see, most enduring lesson a parent can pass on. You drive the road you are on in the vehicle you have, not an ideal road in your dream car.

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