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May 30, 2020

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Mommy, are you going to jail?

A mother's musings

By Liz Gordon-Hancock
"Mommy, are you going to jail?"

This is what my daughter asked me, as I was being pulled over by the police for speeding. All three of my children were in the car at the time, and I had been speeding in town because I was late to a lunch date with some friends.

"No, mommy's not going to jail. Mommy is getting a speeding ticket," I explained to my worried 7 and 6 year-old daughters. "That means I have to pay a fine."

Oh the shame of sitting there, waiting to be handed my speeding ticket, under the watchful eyes of my children, who've never seen mommy get in trouble before.

I am a bit of a goody two shoes so to even get caught doing something wrong is a big deal for me.  I was struggling not to start crying as I waited. But the practical side of me was emphatically saying "I broke the speed limit, in town, with my children in the car. Of course I deserve a ticket!" 

This became an on-the-spot, object lesson for my children on how there are rules that need to be obeyed, and if we don't obey them, there are consequences. Thankfully, this one did not involve going to jail.

Because of that sobering experience, I've concluded that a healthy dose of shame can be a good thing. You clean the house before guests come over, right? That is partly to avoid shame of others seeing your mess.  

Because of the shame of getting a speeding ticket in front of my children, I am now totally convinced that driving a couple miles over the speed limit is not really going to get me to my destination any faster. And it is not worth the risk (or shame) of another speeding ticket or an accident.

Besides, now my children can merrily tell complete strangers "My mommy got a speeding ticket," and I can relive the shame all over again. And now my eldest daughter is a mini-backseat driver, asking "Mommy, are you going too fast?"

With that in mind, I am resolved to watch my speed, especially with my children in the car.  Is my quality of life really better for arriving somewhere a couple minutes earlier?

Liz Gordon-Hancock, daughter of Bob and Deb Beer, graduated from BHS in 2000. She attended Ohio Northern University, and received her bachelor's in English Literature in 2004. She is a member of County Line Church of the Brethren. 

As part of her studies, she spent her junior year in Wales, United Kingdom, at the University of Wales, Lampeter, where she met her future husband, Robert Gordon-Hancock.

After graduation, she married and moved to London, England. She could hear Big Ben chime the top of the hour from their studio apartment. She commuted on a red, double-decker bus, crossing the River Thames, every weekday for work.

But London was not ideal for raising children, so the Gordon-Hancocks bought a house in Witham, Essex, where they had two children (under free, national healthcare).

After 10 years in the UK, the Gordon-Hancocks moved back to Bluffton to raise their kids in small-town America. They now have three children, Alenah (age 7), Isla (age 6) and Elliot (age 2).