Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Ticket to Freedom

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Mar 21, 2015 10:27 AM
"If I had two wishes, and two were all I had,
 And they could just be granted, by my Mom and Dad;
 I wouldn't ask for money or any store-bought things.
 The greatest gifts I'd ask for are simply Roots and Wings." (Denis Waitley)

A few months before my daughter got her driver's license, I had lunch with an old friend I hadn't seen in a long time. Her daughter, a year older than mine, had just begun her first year in college. We talked about the scary and exciting process of children becoming young adults, and the readiness of sending our kids on the great adventure that is college. She was so at ease with the whole process, and I was in denial, a process I knew I still had more than a year to work my way out of. My (wise) friend told me that my daughter's driver's license was my ticket out of denial and into where I wanted to be: the role of cool, poised parent who sent her daughter off on that great adventure with no (visible) tears and every confidence that she would not only be just fine, but that she'd have a great time as well. The driver's license, my friend told me, was their first big freedom, and once they had that, the shift began, and both mother and child were more ready for the adventures that beckoned, just down the road.

She was absolutely right.

My daughter got her license last June, and over the past eight months, I've watched her take those first steps away from home. We cleared the first stage -- text me when you arrive (even if it's only at the grocery store less than a mile away) and when you leave (said grocery store), which has gradually faded to using the electronic umbilical cord only under specific circumstances. We've grudgingly let go of the state- and parent-imposed restriction that only one other teen is allowed to ride in the car with her; once she cleared the state-imposed time frame, the parent-imposed one loosened as well. But the biggest one (so far) has been the shift from "here's what we're doing," to "what are your plans?" with the occasional reminder that she still needs to clear her plans through us, not simply announce them to us.

Okay, so I'm only halfway out of denial. But one foot in denial is only halfway as entrenched as I was this time last year.

This summer, we begin the serious college visits, and I suspect that will give me a boost farther out of the trench of denial. Being a part of her decision, watching her make this choice, seeing her face light up when she finds the place that will be the next stop on her trip to adulthood -- all of these will make it easier, if bittersweet. I can't imagine our house without her in it, but I don't have to just yet.

I still have a few stops on the parenting road between now and then.

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