I’m sitting on the side of the road waiting for my third child to return from her road test for her driver’s test. This is the fourth time I have been dropped off at this location to wait. One of my kids had to take the test twice. I am always a little nervous as the officer enters the car and my child sits behind the wheel. Nervous for the nerves I know each child has had to manage, even in the wake of being more than prepared. Nervous that they won’t pass, but in a way, just as nervous they will.

The first driving test we took was so exciting. As is the case with most of the things the first one does, it was novel. It was a milestone accomplishment and so we rushed toward it. With each subsequent child, the excitement has been there, but it has been tempered with the knowledge of what it feels like to watch them drive off on their own for the first time. There has been the call of, “I’m ok, but I’ve been in an accident.” Those words placing a fear in you that you just have to let go or it will consume you. So sitting here again, I am forcing myself to remember that while this is my third child driver, this is her first big moment towards independence. So I act more excited than nervous for her sake, but the lump in my throat is a tell tale sign of my pretending.

I think the longer you parent the more you realize just how quick it all goes by. There is an understanding of the fragility of time and life as you know it that tempts you to cling on to the comfort of thinking you are in control. But you never have been. And you never will be. The only thing you have is the right now. And in the right now, I’m sitting on the side of the road holding my breath and distracting myself. And feeling a little bit weird just sitting here on the side of the road.

She has just pulled back in and she has a sheepish smile on her face. I can take a breath again. The officer takes a step out of the car and smiles. “She did great!” And so it begins–the independence. She is driven. And until we buy her a car, I will be too.

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