My family is hitting a new milestone next month. My firstborn will be getting his driver’s license. He can’t wait for the day to get here, but I’m not feeling quite as happy about it. I remember what it felt like to be his age. It wasn’t that long ago (okay maybe it was), but I was so excited about being able to drive by myself for the first time. It was my first taste of real independence, and I couldn’t wait to hit the road in my 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit.
These days I spend my time in my Honda Pilot (translation: mom car) between the hours of 3 pm and 8:30 pm on weekdays, shuffling my three kids to and from one practice to another. In the fall, I had a drop-off or pick-up every half hour to forty-five minutes, all night, every night.
And, did I mention my husband was coaching football three nights a week, so the Uber-ing was all on me?
To say we are a busy family is an understatement, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that my kids are getting older, though, the end of my Uber career is in sight, and I realized I’m not as happy about it as one might think. I’m struggling to let go as my son becomes more independent. I know he’s not going to need me as much anymore.
For 16 years, he’s been dependent on me to drive him everywhere he needs to go. I’m going to wake up one day next month, and that’s all going to be over. I’m going to be in the passenger seat (or back home) because my driving shifts for him are over.
The other night he came into my room to talk, and I started crying. Obviously confused, he sat down with me to find out what was wrong. It hit me all at once that lately, our most important conversations—the ones where I really hear and learn about his world—happen when we are alone in the car driving to and from practice. What happens when that ends next month? I panicked that we might lose that connection.
Let’s be honest, he’s not going to tell me everything that’s going on in his life forever. In fact, I’m sure he leaves out quite a few details now, and that’s probably for the best! These daily conversations, when it’s just the two of us, allow me to check in and see how he’s really doing. I am afraid of how things will change when he doesn’t need me to drive him around anymore.
After mocking me a little for worrying too much, my son assured me that he’d still make time to talk to me, but I know that it will be different. I will need to plan more one-on-one time with him. Luckily for me, he inherited my inability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, so I know he’s always available to chat when the rest of our house is asleep.
My son getting his license is my first significant milestone of “letting go,” and I’m dreadfully unprepared. I know the first time he pulls out of the driveway by himself, he will be filled with excitement, and I will be holding back tears. (Okay, anyone who knows me, knows I won’t be able to hold back the tears.) But, ready or not, that moment is coming. This is what we work so hard to prepare our kids for—to be independent. So I should be celebrating…
But, for now, I’m going to enjoy being that Uber driver just a little while longer.