Thursday, April 24, 2014

Relief Is The Word

As you may have read, my life changed dramatically recently

My teenage daughter — after dedicating herself to six months of study and practice with a purpose and commitment I have never witnessed before — aced her road test. My daughter, my baby, my child, is now officially allowed to drive.


The very first day, she came home, beaming, with her interim license (really, just her learner's permit with the word PASS scrawled across it in ballpoint pen), then immediately "borrowed" a car to go and see her horse.

She was ecstatic.

You might think, based on her enthusiasm, that we had kept the two of them apart. You might think I had never made the thirty-minute trip with her day after day (after day), year after year (after year). You would be wrong.

Here's what people told me ...

"Oh, just wait. You're going to love all the freedom!"

"Wow, what will you do with all that time?"

"Congratulations! You must be so happy."

So happy? More like, so not there yet. (Or, so anxious. Does that work for you? Yes, I'm so anxious.)

To give my daughter credit where it's due, she is a careful and conscientious driver (according to her father, aunt, instructors and registry inspector — I myself wouldn't know). And, she's been incredibly understanding about her mother's current agitated state. Each day she lets me know when she's leaving home (I'm often there, in an office on the third floor), then sends a brief text when she arrives:


Pure, unadulterated relief. Never was a word more welcome!

Only once in the four weeks since she got her license has she forgotten. Thirty minutes came and went. Then thirty-five. Then forty. (Can you tell I was watching a clock? 'Biting my nails too.) At about fifty-five minutes, I gave up pretending to be a cooler, calmer, more collected mother. I was worried about calling her phone; if she was stuck in traffic somewhere, I didn't want it ringing and distracting her. So, I called the stable. No answer. Then, I called her trainer's cell and left a message.

A minute later, my phone rang and a sheepish teen said "Sorry, Mom." Whether she was really sorry (and no matter how sorry she may or may not have been), we haven't had a repeat incident. I don't think she's in a hurry to be embarrassed during a lesson again.

It makes me wonder how long I can enforce the call-me-when-you-get-there (here) rule. A year? Two? Until she finishes high school? Until she finishes college? Until I finish, period.

A woman in my Zumba class wears a hoodie sweatshirt that reads "You can do anything for twenty seconds." (It refers to some brutal cross-training fitness class that I will never never never take.)

Every time my daughter gets behind the wheel and heads to the stable, I say a little prayer. I push thoughts of breakdowns and fender benders out of my mind and distract myself with work or chores or a rerun of Dance Moms. I'm nervous. But, I'm also brave.

I tell myself, "I can handle anything for thirty minutes." And I can.

But after that? I'm making a call.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at   

1 comment:

  1. It’s quite thrilling to know that your child is now allowed to be behind the wheel. Though it's understandable if you still fear for her when she goes out for a drive. I think all parents are like that, at first. Just trust her driving. Let her taste the freedom of being in the open road, and at the same time, never fail to remind her of the dos and don'ts of driving. Take care!

    Felix Stewart @ Frontenac Youth Services