Monday, June 4, 2018

In the Driver's Seat

My "baby" posing with her "baby" -- the car she
had to say goodbye to.
Four years ago, I wrote this post for my WITF community blog: 
I talk a really good game when it comes to milestones in my daughter’s life. Though I can’t believe how quickly she leapfrogs from one to the next (walking to running to a riding a bike to starting school to middle school to high school), I know that each is a necessary step on the ladder of independence, and I generally view these milestones with optimism. But today, she’s embarking on a whole new level of independence, one I’m not sure I am ready to face.
My daughter is getting her driver’s license. 
I must admit to conflicting feelings about this. To be honest, never really minded transporting her. She's good company and we usually enjoy our time in the car together. Now that she's on the cusp of going it alone, I wonder how often we'll have those times. Not often, I imagine, and I find myself oddly unready to let go of those trips.  
Over the past three weeks, we've more opportunities than usual for those car trips. Her car (previously my husband's car) has reached the budgetary point of no return -- that place where it makes more sense to spend the money on car payments than repairs to a car that's already paid for. Consequently, as we engaged in the car search or she engaged in any type of activity where she needed transportation, we were temporarily back to Mom's chauffeur service.

Because it needed to, the new (to us) car materialized last week -- or at least we made a decision on one. Though this made my schedule less complicated, it also brought our time in the car to an abrupt halt. Until today, when it was time for another milestone: driving that new car five hours back to school.

My husband and I decided to go along, ostensibly to serve as navigators and help her move into her summer digs. She probably could have managed on her own, but this was a rite of passage. There were no balloons or bells or major celebrations -- not even a ceremonial passing of the keys from parents to child -- just a twenty-year-old in the driver's seat with her parents along for the ride.

It was a nice, if long, day. The strangest part was her dropping us off at the train station instead of vice versa. She walked us in, pointed us in the right direction (we were on her turf, after all) then left the station and drove herself "home" while we headed to our home without her.

For the next two months, there will be no mother-daughter car trips -- or mother-daughter anything in person for that matter -- as she spends the bulk of her summer doing a fellowship in Connecticut while we do our thing at home. I'm proud of her initiative and her independence and, as much as I would love to have her home for the summer, it's time for her to chase her dreams and travel toward her future.

And whenever I'm invited, I'll be thrilled to go along for the ride.

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