Now that my children are pretty much not “children” any longer, I look back at the ups and downs and realize that the downs were never that bad. Sure there were days when screaming, crying kids could get to me, but there was never anything that I found to be completely and utterly unbearable. Dirty diapers, snotty noses, and catching throw-up were just part of the job. Crying babies, toddler tantrums, and bickering siblings was the music that filled my days. Friendship hardships, unwanted admirers, and girlfriend woes reminded me how difficult growing up can be.
Through all of this I grew and learned about parenting, about my children, and about myself. At times I struggled, but I always knew that somewhere down the line — this too would pass.
Recently, however, I have begun to wonder if I am going to get through the current “stage” with Grace. I don’t know if I have it in me to get through teenage driving. Absolutely, without a doubt, I hate this stage of parenting. It is stressful, scary, and bitterly unfair that I am forced to sit by and watch as my little girl grows up, spreads her wings and drives away.
Well, she hasn’t exactly driven away and she hasn’t exactly spread her wings, but she is growing up and with that comes driving, and I hate it. I hate it, hate it, hate it.
That being said, Grace is doing much better in her driving. I rarely have to flail my arms in distress as she takes a turn at 35 mph. I no longer press my foot deep into the carpet, searching for the brake on the passenger side of the car. I haven’t yelled for her to “STOP,” not even once in the past week or so. Of course, my arms might be too exhausted to flail, the bitter truth that there is no brake on the passenger side of the car might have hit me, and my voice might be too hoarse to yell, but she is getting better.
There are some thing however, that I don’t think I will ever understand.
1. Why is it that when Grace drives 50 mph, it feels like 90?
2. How come it never seems that she is going to stop in time before plowing into the car in front of us? Yet she stops in time.
3. Why is my heart racing from the moment Grace asks me if she can drive until an hour or more after we are safely home?
4. How is it she did not hit that car that was in her blind spot when she switched lanes?
5. How is it possible she always manages to turn the steering wheel the wrong way when backing out of the driveway?
6. How am I ever going to be ready for her to take the keys and drive away without me in the car with her?
Is it so wrong of me to want complete control when I am in the car? I have never had much of a problem when Hubby drives. Sure I can be a backseat driver on occasion, but let’s be honest here, on occasion he really needs my help. Yet with Grace I am in a constant state of panic when she is driving. Is this ever going to ease up or am I doomed to be an emotional wreck until she passes her driving test and waves goodbye to me as I watch her drive away? Yeah, like I won’t be an emotional wreck at that moment!
This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a parent, and lucky me, Grace hates driving with Hubby, so guess who gets to do it all? Yep, that would be me. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so glad that I am able to be there every moment with her — as stressful and agonizing as it can be.
It has been two months since she got her permit. She declared upon getting her permit that in 30 days she would have her license. Now she has a goal of September 30th. My goals are far less generous. I’m thinking maybe October or December of say 2016!
So, here I sit propped up by pillows in my bed, with Bell at my feet and Grace by my side, grinding my teeth as I go over todays driving adventures in my head. She did really well. Probably the best she’s ever done. She changed lanes, went through three round-a-bouts, parked the car twice, made several left turns, merged into traffic, and got us home safely without incident. I couldn’t ask for much more, except for her to be little again so I could drive.
The whole while Grace was behind the wheel, I could not get the image of her strapped in her car seat, safe and secure, out of my head. It’s been years since those days came to an end, and yet they feel like yesterday. Sitting in the passenger seat, watching her manuever through traffic, I was proud and at the same time sad. Time presses forward.
I’m not sure if it’s the growing up and gaining independence or the raw terror driving with a teenager invokes in me, that makes this so hard. This definitely calls for taking life a bit slower, enjoying every moment I can, and appreciating the quiet time I am sharing with Grace right now. For the moment — this moment, she is still my “little girl,” and for this I am — Simply Grateful.