For 18 glorious years I enjoyed the title of “chauffeur” for my daughter Grace. Up until her 18th birthday, she really had no interest in learning to drive or getting behind the wheel. Some of this might have been because Hubby and I instilled in her how expensive it was for insurance and driver’s training, but for the most part, she never even thought about it. Surprisingly, many of her friends too did not jump at the chance to begin driving at 16. Two out of three of her friends also waited until they turned 18.
That being said, Grace was chomping at the bit on her 18th birthday to get out and get her driver’s permit. She took the entire day off work so we could be at the Secretary of State’s office as soon as they opened, and then she was off and running practicing her driving every chance she got.
Upon leaving the Secretary of State’s office June 3, 2014, Grace confidently proclaimed she’d be returning in 30 days to get her license. Well, 30 days came and went, as did 60, and then 90. What ever happened to 30 days? Well, let’s just say that Grace’s idea of good driving and mine were somewhat different. At 90 days when she went through three red lights in one week, I’d pretty much given up on her ever getting her license. This meant Hubby had to get involved.
Until that point Hubby had driven with her probably twice. The first time being the day she got her permit and the second time being when she needed to be dropped off at work and asked to drive there. Hubby pretty much didn’t like having to get out of the car to switch spots and let’s be honest, he just is not the most patient of people. Thus, the role of driving instructor fell to me.
At 90 days however, I gave up. Obviously driving instructor was just not a role that I was cut out for. I sent Hubby out with her and told him not to return until she was ready to take her driving test. Of course this didn’t happen overnight, in fact not in the next 30 days, but by the end of October between Hubby and I, we got Grace to a point that we felt fairly comfortable she would be safe, as would the other drivers on the road. The end of October Grace passed her road test and got her driver’s license and immediately wanted out of the house and out on the road.
This has been a transition that I have truly enjoyed. I thought I was going to miss being “chauffeur” after all, Grace and I spent many hours together in the car sharing stories, singing along to the radio, dancing in our seats, and doing some serious bonding. I was afraid that her independence would mean a drifting apart between us. Not at all! In fact, for me this has been very liberating, things couldn’t be better.
Grace has the car practically every day during the week to go to work in the mornings and then to school in the evenings. This leaves me home-bound, which is a welcome change from the constant running around I had to endure before. I love it. I’m a homebody anyway, but being able to legitimize being home-bound is great!
Grace on the other hand…well, let’s just say the thrill of driving has lost it’s luster. Every morning as she opens the garage and heads out to the car, she complains about how cold the seats are in the morning. Every afternoon as she is heading out to the car to leave for school she complains about not wanting to have to walk through the parking lot to get to class. And every time I send her out to fill the gas tank, as she is the one using the gas, she complains about how cold it is outside.
WOW! Funny how she never complained when I went out to the car in the morning and started it a little early, flipping on the seat warmers, so we wouldn’t have to drive to her work in the cold. Amazing how she never gave it a second thought about how nice it was to be dropped off at the door for her college classes, and let’s not forget about not having to find a parking spot. And isn’t it strange that all those years I got out of the car to fill the car with gas and Grace just sat in the passenger seat texting her friends, the cold outside was not an issue.
Such is life!
Truthfully, I do miss the bonding we used to do when I was driving her around, but as with all relationships, this mother/daughter relationship had to evolve. Now we bond when she comes home and complains about work, school, traffic, parking, or all the crazy drivers out on the road and I get to sit back and marvel at it all.
Independence is good. I’m sure Grace wouldn’t trade her new found independence, but it’s nice to see her finally appreciating what she no longer has — although if you ask her, things are much harder for her than anyone else — ever, and for this I am — Simply Grateful. (Oh to be 18 and know everything again — NOT!)