I don’t know how my parents did it. Honestly, I’m not sure I know how any parent does it.
When you’re in the mix of diapers and tantrums and first grade plays and Toothfairy charades, you really can’t envision your children as teenagers. We get caught up in the thick of life in the moment — as it should be — and it seems impossible to envision our kids as these independent, intellectually expressive beings.
But then suddenly you’re staring at it. And, like me, you’re probably all “WTF?! When did I become old enough to have a teenager?”
Hell, sometimes I still get lost in trying to process the fact that the hospitals let me leave with them, let alone the fact that I’ve spent almost 14 years in the mothering gig. But here I am. The daughter is only 13, but in three short years she’ll be driving.
Presumably. I haven’t really decided on that just yet.
The years, they hand-to-heart go by incredibly fast. It’s a cliche for a reason, and it borders on cruel. Just three years ago she was knee-deep in Twilight and Justin Timberlake. Now she hates pretty much any thing teenage-girl mainstream — she definitely beats to her own drum. (And it’s such a beautiful rhythm.)
You don’t realize time has escaped until you’re staring at a child who — if you’re lucky — has these incredible thoughts, opinions, wit, and creativity. And it’s like, “WOW: who is this amazing creature and how did I have any hand in shaping her?” Then, suddenly, you’re face-to-face with reality of the terrifying milestones to come. Already I’m paralyzed with how I am ever going to let her drive and be responsible for her own life.
Then… there’s dating and sex and the gamut of worries surrounding peer pressure, alcohol, and drugs.
Seriously. What in the hell were my parents thinking in ever letting me out of the house? Perhaps that’s what’s so scary about watching her grow up: I remember what I was thinking and doing by the time I was fourteen. Thankfully, she’s not me and is so much smarter, independent, and exceptional than I ever could have hoped to have been at her age.
Now that we’re embarking on the big scary world of independence, I can only hope that my parenting up to this point has given her the tools she needs to be respectful, careful, and strong. As hard as it’s going to be, I know that I have to allow her the freedom to think for herself, to experience life, and even to make mistakes. This is the point when I have to start coming to terms with just how much I have (but hopefully have not) royally screwed up.
But I’m still not sure I’m letting her drive.