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  • I'm a Mom Who Drives, and I Took My Dad's Bilin to Heart: 'Maging Lalake Ka sa Kalye'

    A mom reflects on her driving history and the lessons she has learned along the way.
    by Angie Azcona-Victoriano .
  • Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
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    Weaving through EDSA, I signal to the left side, so I can switch lanes and line up after trucks, vans, and other large vehicles. It is close to 3 p.m. and thinking it was still early, I was surprised to see the build-up that stretched from the GMA-7 building all the way down to Nepa Q-Mart with the bottleneck at the lane opposite the bus terminals. I noticed my stress levels beginning to rise, and I just left the house 20 minutes ago. The traffic was making me agitated already.  

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    I was a mom of two by the time I made the conscious decision to drive. You would think that being on the road for an average of two to four hours would make me patient, understanding, or even cool-headed. But, no, being stuck on EDSA after being freshly showered, primped and "colognified " has only turned me into a beast. An unwilling road bitch, a woman on the verge of madness, almost every day, 200 plus days a year (average school year).

    I still remember the words of wisdom my dad's driver told me while he taught me parallel parking inside the U.P. campus.

    "Basta, tandaan mo, dapat lakasan lang ng loob."

    "Huwag mo sila hayaan na maunahan ka."

    And, lest I forget, here is the best one of all: "Dapat maging lalake ka pag nasa kalye ka."

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    I found myself maneuvering along tight side streets like a jeepney driver, honking my horn whenever I felt the car in front of me was driving slow. (Or swerving when there are no cars in my peripheral vision.) When I learned how to flick the light button so I could request the driver in front of me to speed up or switch lanes, I found myself becoming a little bit aggressive. It gave me a false sense of power. Eventually, I stopped doing it, deeming it unnecessary since my car was frequently stuck in traffic anyway.

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    In my years of driving, I have made some impulsive decisions, which have resulted in near collisions with vehicles that were twice the size of my car or incurred a traffic violation. Perhaps the most memorable and terrifying driving experience I had was when I bumped into another vehicle. It happened along Tomas Morato during the exam week of my youngest child.

    Because I was in a hurry, I wasn't paying attention to the car that was about to cross from Sct. Gandia. I called my husband for help because I started hyperventilating due to anxiety and fear. I spoke to the man who owned the car, surveyed the damage and asked him politely how we were going to resolve it.

    Thank God the damage was minimal. In the end, we both filed for a police report (for insurance purposes), and it wasn’t that bad of experience inside the police station. Lesson learned: always be alert when driving along an intersection especially when your child is the passenger.

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    After the incident, I got panic attacks, and I took a break from driving — for a week. I still had to drive my children to school in the mornings.

    Another time was when a traffic enforcer flagged me down for not turning left. This occurred along the infamous Julia Vargas road near Megamall in Ortigas, famous for the blue or sometimes green-uniformed men. They would hide behind the shady trees, ready to flag down unsuspecting drivers like me who do not notice the small sign that says "vehicles on the inner lane must turn left" to the direction of SM Megamall B and Shangri-La Plaza.

    I would describe my behavior as "unbecoming of a lady." Thinking I could talk my way out of it, I told the enforcer I didn't see the sign. I honestly thought that if I sounded naive, he would let me pass, but no. He gave me a ticket for disregarding traffic signs, but suffice to say, the experience scared me once again.

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    These days, I make an immense effort to stay coolheaded. I recite some mantras in my head, so I don’t lose my patience and end up doing something I might regret. I always remember the best part about being stuck in traffic with the kids: we swap stories, experiences, and secrets. It’s like being their counselor. It is inside the car where I become their confidante and not the “sermonator.” And I value those times spent chatting about their friends, the latest songs, etc.   

    So to all my fellow moms who may or may not enjoy driving, I propose a toast. Cheers to the fearless women who endure our traffic, and if by chance you really need to pee, may there be a clean restroom you can use.

    To the fabulous women who drive/pick up their children to school, tutorial centers, birthday parties, or gimmick dates with their friends, to the women who drive their significant others to their meeting place, hurray to all of you.

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    Is the traffic situation elevating your stress level? Remain focused on the road. Don’t get distracted by those large billboards with handsome and sometimes shirtless models.

    I am with you in your triumphs and agonies. May you be safe on the road at all times.

    Maria Angeles "Angie" Azcona- Victoriano is a mom to two teenagers. Before she started writing, Angie worked in the guidance department of a school. She spends her free time writing love stories and makes trinkets using semi-precious stones. A certified caffeine junkie, she also enjoys watching the sunset.

    Want to get something off your chest? Or share a slice of your parenting journey with fellow moms? Send it to our Facebook Messenger or email at smartparenting2013@gmail.com with the subject "Real Parenting." Join us at the Smart Parenting Village here.

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