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Are there three scarier, more
exciting words in the English language? Three words that simultaneously hold such promise and such peril, that signal such joy, fear, expectation,
I am the
mother of a new teen driver, and I’m awash in these conflicting feelings…and
more. On the one hand, I have to admit
that life has suddenly become a whole lot easier. No ferrying her to school in the
morning. No stopping mid-project to drive in to pick her up in the
afternoon. No shifting plans because she had to stay late or a practice was
canceled or she wanted to hang out with a friend. No sitting around
on Saturday night waiting for the text informing me that the movie is out and she’s
ready to be picked up. No being on call. I love it.
But I also hate
it. Not just because I’m scared she’ll
get in an accident (which, of course, I am) or that she’ll get a flat tire on a
lonely road and some horrible, evil person will stop to “help” her (a scenario
I can easily construct in my deep moment of catastrophizing). I hate it because of what that driver’s
license means, the subtext, if you will, of the driver’s license.
It is one more step—a huge step at that—in her independence, in her journey toward adulthood and away from the little
girl it is hard for me not to see in her composed, mascara-ed teenage
face. Being able to drive means that the
part of her life that is her life and
her life alone will grow and change in ways that will now be obscured from my
view. Having a license means I am no longer indispensable. Is this all a necessary and wonderful part of
growing up? Yes. Does it break my
heart? A little.
I won’t miss
being a chauffeur. I won’t miss picking
up her and a friend and having them sit in the backseat together so that I
truly do feel like a chauffeur. I won’t
miss being told to let her off a block away from a meeting spot so her friends
don’t see she’s being driven (chauffeured) by her mother. I won’t miss mid-evening runs to the grocery
store because she suddenly remembered she was supposed to bring cookies for a
school event, and there’s no vanilla extract in the house.
what I will miss: The surprising,
important, suddenly serious talks we’ve had in the car, conversations that just
happened because we were in transit, in limbo, in a kind of free space that
somehow freed us. I’ll miss those occasional impromptu events—stopping for frozen yogurt, looking at
kittens in the pet store—that happen because we’re in the car and we’ve got a
half an hour before we need to be some place. But most of all, I’ll miss singing with her. In the car, with the radio blasting and no
one to hear how badly we harmonized and how much we messed up the lyrics, we