This morning our youngest, Gracie, got her driver’s license. She was so nervous leading up to the driving test and then so excited afterward, and I shared those emotions right along with her! Another page added to the book I should be writing titled, “How the heck did I get so old?”
She dropped me off at home and then drove off down the street by herself to school, and then it hit me… I’M FIRED! I know so many parents out there that rejoice when their kids start driving because they have freedom from chauffeuring them around all the time. I have never felt that way! Some of our best talks and most important bonding experiences have occurred when I was behind the wheel!
For 22 years I have been driving not only my three children but my nieces and nephews and half the kids in town to various field trips, practices, games, etc. I owned five different mini vans before my current suv and have spent innumerable hours sitting in drop-off and pick-up lines and waiting in parking lots for however many kids to climb into my car with pounds and pounds of backpacks, musical instruments and sports gear.
Let me tell you, you learn so much about your children and their friends from piling into a car together! I’ve savored every word, giggle, tear and bit of gossip that I have experienced with them! I’ve not only been a driver but a shoulder to lean on, therapist, mom and friend when needed.
When our son, Sam, got his license and drove off on his own for the first time, I realized that I would never again have that precious time with him like I used to. Gone were the days when he was five years old, after 9/11, and belting out “I’m Proud to be an American” along to the radio, or “You’ll be in my Heart” from the Tarzan soundtrack over and over and over again, each and every time bringing tears to my eyes!
You start out being terrified to drive them around when first born, then you move on to the stressed-out drives where their binkie or favorite toy gets dropped or they need a diaper change and they’re screaming and you’re sweating until you can safely pull over or make it home; then there are the years of siblings fighting or looking at each other the “wrong way” or arguing over which movie or music to play on long trips.
Once he got his license I never really had him to myself much until I picked him up to come home for Thanksgiving his freshman year of college. He never shut up the entire ride and I was in my glory! After that I never minded driving him the six hours each way to and from school. He now drives his own car back and forth and I am missing those rides together!
Our oldest daughter, Ellie, is in college three and a half hours away, a trip I have made quite a bit in the last year. I also savor each and every second of our rides together. We have special, favorite stops along the way (Starbucks and Chik-fil-A!) and we chat like crazy until she decides to take a nap!!
I savor every one of these memories, and am so grateful that I’ve had that time with not only my children, but the others who have graced me with their presence through the years! I am one lucky momma!