Something happened last week that I am so not ready for. In fact, I am not sure that I will ever be ready for it. My oldest daughter, after having completed driver’s education, 45 logged hours of driving time, and a 7 day behind the wheel course, has officially gotten her real license. She just has a piece of paper right now because the state requires her to appear before a judge in court to get the hard copy in the next few weeks, but that piece of paper means she can legally drive without an adult. I’m not ready. Is any parent ever ready to let their teen get behind the wheel alone and drive off? I don’t see how anyone could be. The thought of her driving without her dad or me there is so scary. We live in an extremely high traffic area which is a far cry from the small, zero traffic town where I first got behind the wheel alone all those years ago. I am certain my parents were nervous for that first time, but I feel like it is vastly different here. There are so many more opportunities for crashes in the crazy traffic we see around here. I think I would feel much better about the situation if we lived down there instead of here. Let’s be honest, though. That’s probably not really true. I would likely be a nervous wreck no matter where we lived. Ugh! I’m not ready. I know I said this same thing when she got her permit, but this is a whole new ballgame.
Later this week will be the first time that she has to drive by herself. She has SAT tutoring, and my husband and I are not able to take her that day. Normally, we would just reschedule, but my husband has talked me into letting her drive herself there and back. He says it has to happen sooner or later. It is only like 2 miles away, but I am not sure I am going to be able to breath until she texts me that she is safely there and parked and safely back home and parked afterwards. I made her drive there yesterday with me to practice and to practice parking in the parking lot. Of course, she did fine, but that doesn’t mean that she will do fine on Thursday. She still makes careless mistakes sometimes as an inexperienced driver that really make me nervous. Plus, she is a blond and a true dingy sometimes. I can say that because I am her mother. If you know her, you know it is true. She will admit it herself. I know that she had her own nerves every time she gets behind the wheel, and that does make her more cautious. I guess that is a good thing, but I would like her to be a little more confident. She says that she is ready, though, and that she will be fine driving to tutoring by herself. It is just me that isn’t so sure. The whole time she had her learner’s permit, she really had no interest in driving. We actually had to force her to drive most of the time just to get her practice and to be able to log her 45 hours of experience. Now that she has the real thing, though, she is making all these plans of where she is going to go and what she is going to do. I am thankful that the law here is that she can only have one non-family member in the car with her at a time. She can’t just load the car up with all her friends and go galivanting around town. My husband and I were talking yesterday about needing to set our own ground rules for driving as well. I can think of like 50 rules, but he, of course, thinks that is overkill.
I know that this is a part of growing up and a normal part of life, but she is my baby. She may be almost as tall as me, but to me she is still that 4 lb, 8 oz peanut that we were scared we would break when we brought her home from the hospital. Now I am scared she will break while out driving, and that is a million times worse. I know this is a big step in her life, but I don’t like it. Why can’t they just stay little and innocent forever? I don’t know how I am going to do this. I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it. I know I have to let her go and just keep praying that she will be safe, but it is excruciating. Is there ever a stage in life when parenting isn’t hard? We have joked for years that we couldn’t wait until she could drive herself to practice and we could get a break from all the trips back and forth. Now that the time is here, I have changed my mind. I take back all those times I complained about the time I spent in my car. I will happily continue to drive back and forth if it means keeping her safe forever. Please pray for me. I might have a nervous breakdown. Mom life is HARD!