Children: Letting them take the Wheel… (6/1/07)
It seems like yesterday that my little girl was wearing a cute fuchsia polka dot dress with a pastel camp hat. But, it wasn’t yesterday or the day before. In fact, it’s been at least a decade since she wore this type of attire.
How did time pass so quickly? Have I done all I could to prepare my daughter for the future? These questions and more flood through my head as I reflect on the bittersweet reality of my daughter’s impending Senior Prom and High School Graduation.
It’s not that I haven’t prepared for this time in my daughter’s life, but I have been in my own numb state of denial regarding the fact that my oldest daughter is becoming an adult and my days of ‘parenting’ her are numbered. I’m thinking that this time should be filled with utter happiness and joy. But, underneath my joy is a layer of sorrow that stings for the loss of the child that is becoming a woman.
My husband and I were very young (22 years old) when Manda was born. We were still mostly teenagers looking for a direction in life. It didn’t take long for us to realize that by having a child, our direction was defined. Many of life’s questions that people in their 20’s ponder over for years; we found answers for in mere months. Making Manda’s life good was our driving force. We worked hard to create careers for ourselves with a few college credits and bought our first house at age 25. When Manda was in Kindergarten, we welcomed a second daughter. We were very lucky.
My life has centered around the girls and their various activities (this was my second job after working in the office all day). Manda was involved in Community Theater (singing, acting & dancing) in Middle School and then added a full commitment to Color Guard in High School among other things. There were many long days and nights spent taxi-ing Manda from place to place. The most interesting phenomenon during this time in Manda’s childhood, were the many conversations that took place in the car. I’m not sure what it is about the car, but it was very conducive for long discussions about life and relationships. It’s an effective way to communicate, because no one can escape until the destination is reached.
Last fall, the many conversations in the car stopped abruptly when Manda was granted her driver’s license. It was a hard as a mother to accept that the time had come for my daughter to drive (felt like a hunk of skin was being pulled from my stomach). I think it has helped me accept the fact that Manda can get around this world on her own and that she doesn’t need her mother 24/7. This was a necessary evolution for me.
We are so proud of Manda. She has been a wonderful, bright and responsible child who could be depended on to do the right thing. It’s been a joy raising a child like this and I have had the time of my life doing it.
Perhaps my emotions should be not of ‘loss’ but of an inability to let go of a childhood. As parents, we put our all and every smidgeon of our being into creating these amazing life forms that one day walk away and start their own lives. How does a parent go from putting all this effort/time into a child, to releasing control and letting them take the wheel?
Children and Parents don’t come with an Operators Manual. Life happens… I think that’s the answer.