Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear

For me the current “best” is driving with my two boys in the car since they switched to forward facing car seats and getting to see them through the rearview mirror.

File Under: Memoir

As any parent will tell you every moment is the best. Each time your child does something for the first time you think to yourself that nothing could possibly top this until the next adorable thing invariably does. For me the current “best” is driving with my two boys in the car since they switched to forward facing car seats and getting to see them through the rearview mirror. Through this small piece of reflective glass, I get to watch them sing, laugh, cry, snore, and fight, I get to watch them experience the world flying past. As I watch my youngest belt out his favorite songs from ‘Moana’ or my oldest sing the ‘Duck Tales’ theme I can’t help but be grateful that these moments exist just for us in that car. There is no camera. These moments exist in the reflection of the mirror and are gone. Beautiful. Unique. Fleeting. More often than not my boys don’t even realize that I can see them, they are so wrapped up in their own backseat world that when their eyes do meet mine in the mirror it as if we are long lost friends and they get wide smiles on their faces.

It’s hard not to imagine how much of their lives I will watch through the rearview mirror. The post-game nap after their first little league win. The tears after their first summer at camp. The silent stare out the window after their first date. The excitement as we tour potential colleges. Life will happen, and time will forever be marked by what is seen in the mirror. There is something else in this realization, there is the acknowledgement of how little control I have as a parent, that I may be driving the car, but I have no impact on what they do in the backseat. I can offer guidance and opinions, but ultimately it is their domain and their choices. As they get older the rearview mirror will move from the car to more aspects of their lives as I become a witness to their journey, a journey I have set them on, but cannot take for them.

Whatever path their lives take they will end up in the driver’s seat, in control of the car, looking at their rearview mirror. One day, God willing, I will sit in the backseat of one of their cars next to their children and when I catch one of my sons’ eyes in that mirror I’ll think to myself, “Now this is the best.”

Joel Swedlove

Joel Swedlove

Joel Swedlove currently serves as the Director of Youth Programs and Informal Education at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas. Prior to arriving in Texas, Joel lived in Las Vegas where he worked at the Adelson Educational Campus as a Jewish music teacher, athletics assistant, and coach. Joel has gained significant experience in informal education having spent his summers as a song leader, unit head and program director for Camps Alonim, Hess Kramer and JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, respectively. Joel grew up in the Reform movement from his early summers at Camp Swig and Newman to serving as Religious and Cultural VP on NFTY Southern California's Regional Board. Upon graduating high school he served as youth group advisor and director for congregations throughout Southern California and Las Vegas. He has a deep love of movies, comic books and sports. Joel and his wife, Stephanie, are the proud parents of two boys, Ethan and Alexander.