After several miscarriages and tests and pain- physically and mentally- I was further into a pregnancy than I’d ever been. It was New Years Eve 1999 going into 2000. And the least of my worries was Y2K. I’d lost so many pregnancies (some very late in my term) that I was constantly anxious and paranoid about losing another. Although they had found the source of my “issues” and I was on blood thinners and things seemed to be going ok….I just couldn’t wrap my head around an actual baby. I wasn’t sure it was in my destiny. In our destiny.

But on July 6, 2000 after 26 hours of labor and pitocin (evil shit) she arrived. Seven pounds, 6 ounces of jet black hair and cute, healthy baby! Patrick was so nervous he counted her fingers and toes and kept miscounting thinking she had 11 fingers. Two days later as the nurse wheeled me to the parking lot and Patrick pulled the car up to the curb he and I stood there and stared at the nurse. She kind of looked at us, checked the car seat and waited. We picked up the baby and asked”so do we just leave with it now?”.

So clueless. As most new parents are. So totally and utterly and absolutely clueless.

And now her 5 foot 3 inches self is sitting on my couch almost 15 years later registering for her pre-drivers license classes online. In Colorado you have to have 30 hours of instruction before even getting your permit. And since she wants it ON HER BIRTHDAY- which is Monday, she has to get busy.

And unlike any other milestone in my children’s lives this has me spent. When she learned to talk it was TO ME. When she learned to walk it was TO ME. When she started Kindergarten she came home every day TO ME. I know. I KNOW. With all of my heart and soul and memory of my 15th birthday what this means. When she gets her driver’s license it will be because she will drive AWAY. FROM ME. I’ve cried a few times this week about it. I don’t understand where the time went. It went so crazy fast. And I know what this represents. Its the beginning of her leaving. She will no longer need me to drive her to practice, to go shopping, to her friend’s houses. All of those millions of moments in the car that we talked. REALLY TALKED.

Who will she talk to now? Did I say all I needed to say in 15 years? Did I explain all she needs to know? Did I teach her about life? Did I convey how much I love her. Shit. If I’d have known the time in the car was going to go so quickly I might have talked more. I might have shared more. Or better yet- I might have LISTENED more.

The truth is I didn’t obey every traffic law. I didn’t drive perfectly. I drove out past curfew. I did stupid things STUPID things. I had alcohol in my car and boys and holy crap. How do you tell a kid NOT to do the very things you did? And the truth is you CANT. She knows right from wrong. She knows. But now the choices will lie squarely on her shoulders and I wont be there. Patrick wont be there…to catch her, save her or re direct her.

More than any other thing they’ve ever done this driving thing is a real eye-opener. Because I know what it means to be 15. To be 16. I know how you think. And I also know once you walk out that door, and get in that Red 1987 Chevy Z24 you don’t come back. You just don’t. My Dad took off work the morning of my 16th birthday and took me to the DMV in Lewisville, Texas to get my drivers license. That afternoon, when I drove away for the first tim on my own…I finally now know how he felt. How my Mom felt. He was a mere 35 years old that day. As clueless as I am at 42. About this whole parenting thing. We do they best we can. They did the best they could. We protect and teach, and inform and then we have to let go and trust. I trust her. She’s a good kid. A very good kid. But Im not one of those naive parents that thinks their kids do nothing wrong. After all, I was once 16.

So for this type A, control freak of a Mom this is a big thing. A HUGE thing. And Im scared and Im nervous and Im worried and Im going to slap a GPS tracking deice on her car and lock her phone in her trunk and weld the back doors shut and any other shit we can think to do to protect her. Until we can’t. Until we just have to let go. Watching your kids grow is this beautifully, symmetrical act of simultaneous joy, fear, sadness, pride and love.

The song I listened to most while pregnant with her was “I HOPE YOU DANCE” by Lee Ann Womack. It says a lot about hoping your child embraces all that life will show her. And I hope she does. I hope she finds the beauty in a solo drive through the mountains, in a convertible on a pretty day, in music blaring from the car radio, in the freedom of being able to leave when you want to. And I hope once in a blue moon she drives back home…TO ME!

“Children Get Older and I’m getting older too…”
~Stevie Nicks, Landslide

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