We reached a milestone just today.
Not retirement, not a wedding to plan or a college degree to celebrate, like so many of my friends my age – 51 – seem to be doing this spring.
My baby got his high school parking pass.
He is now fully enabled and allowed to get up in the predawn darkness, drop off his dad at the park and ride for his commute downtown, and take the truck all by himself to high school.
You see, we want him to earn his own car, learn responsibility – aka “suffer’” a little bit to taste that sweet Teen Freedom he’s been yearning for. The job market being nil to nothing for 16-year-olds right now, it will be too long before he gets a job, much less saves up enough money to buy his own car. So, if he wants to drive solo and be independent, he’ll have to take his dad’s decidedly unglamorous truck.
I know he’ll love every lonely minute of it.
And I know I’ll hate it.
When we had our children in our 30’s, nobody told me those adorable, dutch-blonde haired devil-angel babes would grow up into man-sized, bass voiced, precociously independent young men. Those days I thought I’d drown in diapers and BeyBlades, Legos and soccer socks… All I could think when I iced yet another cupcake or unearthed another French fry from the backseat of the minivan was, When would they finally grow up and give me back my life? My independence? My time to call my own, eat salad and not have to watch them eat pizza, or watch a Sam Elliott movie without them rolling their eyes?
Every time I walked into Target, there she’d be. The little blue haired lady, all alone, ready to smile indulgently at my boys’ game of football in the store aisles. She’d chuckle at the frown embedded in my forehead and say, “Enjoy this time with your little ones – it goes by too fast. Before you know it….”
She was right. Call me selfish, but when I became an older mother, I didn’t expect my eagerness to reclaim my adult life’s desires and ambitions to collide so violently with my reluctance to let go of their childhood.
I want it all.
But time doesn’t stand still, does it?
It is with a sheepish grin that my man-child presents his parking pass to me. He knows I’m on the verge of tears, but he’s man enough to handle it.
“I got it Mom. I’ll be driving myself from now on.”
“Are you sure about this?” I ask, anxious for him to shrink back into his car- printed pajamas and demand A.A. Milne’s When We Were Six to me for a cuddle and a read. “This means every morning, up in the dark, rain, cold….”
“Yeah, Mom. I’m sure.” He stands his ground. Size thirteen feet, he holds his ground very well.
I can only sigh and acquiesce. I know he’ll be cautious, because he’s the careful type. I have no worries that he’ll do something stupid – I’m the mother of sons; I’m not delusional. I know he’ll enjoy his solo drives every day.
And after I get used to sleeping in, drinking my coffee and starting my day at my own pace, so will I.