I watched my daughter get in the car and drive away for the first time. She had just passed her driver’s exam and within minutes of getting home, she took off in the car alone to drive herself to dive practice.
I stood in the empty driveway, frozen in the moment.
She’s gone, on her own, and I’m already waiting anxiously for her to safely return home where I can be assured, she’s okay.
I walked into the house and found myself looking out the window, staring at the empty driveway, worrying if she made it to her destination, waiting to get her text to confirm she did. I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to tell her that I may have forgotten and all of the things I need to remind her just one more time…
Then I realized that looking out my window at that empty driveway will be my new view as I slowly try to surrender my control in this new season that I find myself in. I’m releasing her against my will, against my instinctive aching to hold on to her just a little bit longer. I don’t want to let go. I’m not ready and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be.
From this new view, I’ll be constantly wondering if she’s making the right decisions while she’s out on the road, on her own without me to give her direction on what to do. I’ll feel a certain helplessness that comes from not being her navigator, steering her in the right way, the better way, the safe way. I’ll constantly be praying for her protection while imagining her winding around roads where other cars drive recklessly and wishing I could just follow behind her to make sure she’s okay. I’ll be terrified in bad weather and when the clock ticks past the time she was expected home.
This part of letting go is like a slow breaking of ties that bound us together, keeping her dependent on my presence and my parenting. She doesn’t need me anymore for one of the biggest aspects of her life, and it feels a bit like being abandoned. It feels a bit sad. It feels a bit lonely.
From this new view, I’ll be thinking of all the things she’s doing out there in this big expansive world that she is now free to roam. I’ll be worrying and waiting, and wanting more than anything to have my girl stop growing up and moving on, because this part of letting go is harder than I ever imagined.
From this new view, I’ll be hoping she makes it to school on time or finds the location of new destinations she’s never been to before. I’ll worry she can’t manage the stressful drive downtown in the heavy traffic full of narrow construction barriers. I’ll imagine her in the car with friends going to various gatherings she is now free to attend. I’ll picture her doing errands around town while making her own stops for Starbucks and gas.
From this new view, I’ll wonder if she’s keeping an eye on that gas tank, locking her car, and making sure her lights are on when it rains. I’ll worry if she’ll get lost when driving to places far away. I’ll be hoping she doesn’t get distracted with her phone, her friends, her music, or any other thing that can so easily interfere with her focus. I’ll entertain a variety of horrific worst-case scenarios in my frantic thoughts and try my best to fight the terror of those images with assuring affirmations that I hope will somehow convince me she’s going to be okay.
From this new view, I’ll be missing my girl and reflecting on all the time we spent together in the car through the years and the thousands of hours we clocked on the road. I’ll recall us listening to music, praying, talking, laughing, bickering, planning, and preparing for and rehashing our days. I’ll be longing for those moments together and searching for them in new corners of our lives, hoping to somehow get that private time back. Yet, I know full well, the reality of this season becomes the bridge that takes her further down the road, away from me.
She’s steering the wheel now, driving on her own path that takes her beyond this home, toward the horizon full of dreams she’ll want to fulfill.And that’s how it’s supposed to be, I know. It’s just hard to watch her go.
I’ll never stop worrying, stop wishing, stop wondering about all the things we’ve shared before now, where things seemed less complicated having her near. I will relive memories of her childhood where she danced in her tutu and sang her ABC’s, and I’ll catch my breath, in the wonder of it all. I’ll hold those moments with a grip so tight because that’s all I can do with my empty hands now.
Looking out my window anxiously waiting for her return is my new view for the rest of our lives…
This driveway has become the launching ground to her independence. It will be empty often, as she ventures on to explore new things and create a life all her own. With another blink of an eye, I’ll watch her drive off after visits for the holidays when she’s grown, perhaps with a car full of kids all her own.
It’s happening so fast. It always happens so fast, the way our kids begin to crawl, then learn to drive…
Leaving you in the wake of their growth, bewildered at the speed of time and how it tricks you into believing you have it.
You’re never really ready for any new stage in parenting. You never feel like the moment is perfectly placed with careful planning; it simply comes with no regard for your feelings or your inability to let go.
This is motherhood. We are faced with new views and forced to let go a little bit more each time it changes.
Because even when you’re not ready to watch them leave. Even when you want to hold onto your baby much longer than you can. Even when you’re scared and wishing you had just a little bit more time…
A new view appears.
And you find yourself looking through it with raw fragility, grappling with this newfound growth, unsure of how it’s all going to go.But with each new view we face, comes a landscape that is always full of challenges and mistakes, fears and worries that our kids aren’t ready and neither are we.
So, I’ll watch from my window, and I’ll slowly try to trust that this new view will become less painful, less scary, less worrisome for me to see.
And I’ll believe that this is exactly how it’s supposed to be.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.