I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 19 weeks along and the obstetrician said “something is wrong”. Something is wrong. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had passed away in utero. It wasn’t my first miscarriage. And it wouldn’t be my last. But damn that one hurt more than the others. I curled up in a ball and promised God or whoever that I would do whatever to have a healthy baby. Anything. I wondered what I’d done to deserve this much pain. And if I’d ever be a Mom. I thought about the kind of Mom I’d be. The kind of child I’d have. And though I’d suffer one more pregnancy loss before Maddie came along….I got to find out what being a Mom is. And I will never, EVER take that privilege for granted.
On my 16th Birthday my Dad took me to the DMV and I got my drivers license and I drove myself to school that day and life was never the same again. There’s a freedom that comes with driving that is like no other. And lets be honest…once a kid has that license…your relationship with them is never the same again. I drove where I wanted. And pre-GPS, pre-cell phone days, its likely my parents had no clue where I was most of the time.
Maddie got her license today. In the blink of an eye I went from staring at her breathing ALL NIGHT long to make sure she was alive to watching her drive away alone in a car. There were days, especially when I had two awful toddlers, that I thought parenthood was the dumbest thing I’d ever done. They never slept. They climbed the walls. I rarely showered. I had no life. I felt like I would be eternally stuck in a house with non-speaking, non-toilet trained, non-logical mini humans that obviously hated me.
And then I blinked. And she drove away.
I feel myself aging. My skin is less taught. I have age spots. I cannot see at night very well. I hurt a little more after workouts…for longer than before. And mostly I feel a slowing down. A patience in me I never had before. And its sort of beautiful. I was such a helicopter parent for so long. Saving them, rescuing forgotten homework and left lunch boxes. Finishing book reports for them. I quit doing that a few years ago. It came naturally. Slowly. Over time. They failed. They fell. They still do. Often. But if Im there to catch them every time, to fix it for them, to make it right, Im not letting them become adults. And it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Letting go. For a control freak, thats a BIG deal. I could put a band aid on a scraped knee….but the “boo boo’s” that happen now…broken hearts, broken friendships, tough decisions…I can’t fix those. There’s not a band aid for that. And as much as it hurts to watch I know they will be stronger for it. No life can be fully lived without some sorrow.
There’s this RIDICULOUS feeling I have about my 16 year old daughter. I trust her. Dumb. No one should ever trust a 16 year old. I don’t trust her to never drink or never smoke pot or never make a bad decision EVER in the remainder of time she’s in this house. That would be ignorant. I watch other parents think that they have “that one kid that would never”. You are wrong. You are VERY wrong. They all do. You just don’t know it. And I know she will. But I have a strange feeling of trust. That when she does, if she does, she’ll make the right decision.
When I was 18 I was at a friend’s New Years Eve party. I drank too much. It had iced on the roads. At 2 ish am I had a choice. I could slowly drive home in the Z24 Chevy Cavalier. Or I could make a phone call. I made the phone call. My Dad drove to pick me up from my friend’s house. On the drive home he said “thank you for calling”. That’s all he said. I went to bed and at 7:00 am he banged on my door and said “get up we have to go get your car, I have things to do. Asshole. My head was pounding. He made me pick up dog crap all day in the yard. With a hangover. The smell made me vomit. I deserved it.
I hope she knows she can call me. I hope she knows enough to trust herself and her instincts. I hope Ive done good. I hope she lets people in. And maybe trusts a little. And listens to music loudly in the car and jams out and waves at cute boys and drives her friends to cheer practice. I hope she knows what comes with all that freedom. She doesn’t leave for college for 2.5 years but today seemed like an ending of sorts. Because I know it is. And I cried. Damn, time flies. Here’s to all the roads she will travel. I hope a few are dirt. And I hope a few lead back to me occasionally.