Sunday, August 7, 2011

And She Drives Away, In the Car, Alone, Without Me …

          If I weren’t me, I would question me. I would make fun of me. I would have all kinds of advice to give to me …
          My 16 year old daughter will be leaving for a busy teenage agenda, and I prepared the car for her today. She will drive herself to each destination from this afternoon until tomorrow afternoon. Even though she has driven by herself over the last week or two, and I had multiple people individually drive with her before that, my mind and heart are not doing so good.
Today, I put more gas in the car, positioned the GPS in a non-visual blocking spot, put extra money in her change purse, ran the car through the car wash and did a quick vacuum. Evidently, I was going through some strange sequence of insane motions in an attempt to feel like I was doing something to help the upcoming moment when she would drive away. As I sat in the front seat of our car finishing with the final Armor All/Windex touches, I noticed that I was no longer doing the wiping motions. I had stilled into a quiet stare wondering, How can I do this? WHY am I doing this? It’s too early. She’s too young. Why did no one warn me of this turmoil that would come 16 years after giving birth? I feel like I am doing the most insane thing by letting my child drive out there with all of the dangers … I think I am suffocating. Now, I think I’m going to yak … Wait; don’t I need to check the oil? What if the oil is low? I don't even know how to check oil.
          One would think I was sending my child into outer space as I was preparing the space shuttle and praying over it.
          I am going through a reenactment of a day that occurred 14 years ago. I walked with my little daughter, hand in hand up the steps leading to her big girl school. She was 2 years old and had repetitively asked to go to “school” like the other big kids. I signed her up in a twice a week Mother’s Day Out program, bought her a cute lunch box and packed her favorite foods. She was beaming with pride as she entered into the building wearing her new, stylish black and blue velour outfit. I was fine, until it was time to hand her off to a total stranger and walk away, leaving her there for 5 hours. It stung.
Looking back, that doesn’t seem like such a big deal; but it was then … just like this is now.
I can only imagine the upcoming phases of trying to keep my composure as we are packing my child’s things and taking her to college. Or, when some young man captures her heart and she begins a new life as an adult woman, wife … and then becomes a mom herself.
I will keep these writings for her. Even though she is so frustrated with me now; somehow, I know that she will feel a pain as her baby drives away for the first time without her. Maybe it will not be as dramatic and severe as her mom’s was, but I know it will affect her and I anticipate a call … just as I have called my dad.
“Daddy, I think I am losing my mind. I am having such a difficult time with this. What’s wrong with me?”
He lovingly responds, “Honey, we all did that. It’s just part of being a parent and loving a child. You have to let her go.”

My children are the most important part of my life, and the largest part of me as a person. Letting them go is so hard.

Simultaneously happy and sad,

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