After a quick and uneventful C-section to bring my little angel into the world, I remember gazing down at my perfect baby boy. I timidly pawed at my baby to make sure everything looked how it was supposed to look. Ten fingers? Check. Ten toes? Check. I remember breathing a sigh of relief…for a nanosecond…until I realized that the hospital staff was going to require me to take this baby boy home and raise him. Panic that I was unqualified or ill-prepared to raise my perfect baby boy set in. I tried to reason that Mother Nature knew what she was doing. I had read all the books, taken the classes, this was a PLANNED pregnancy. Dr. Spock definitely knew a thing or two, right? And, as those parents who have blazed the trail long before me knew…it was all ok. My baby and I got to know each other and we’ve had our ups and downs along the way but the journey has been a blessing. I know a love I never thought was possible. Every stage of parenting has been exciting and new and I’ve looked forward to the roses and tried, unsuccessfully at times, to avoid thorns that have accompanied each stage.
…until Drivers Ed.
My sweet baby boy is no longer a sweet baby boy. He’s now an intelligent, funny, 15-year-old young man who wants to drive a motor vehicle! I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into when I paid the fee for him to enroll in On-line Drivers Ed. You heard me right…Drivers Ed…ONLINE! Who knew such a thing even existed? Well…it does. So, I get him enrolled. A few weeks later he tells me that he is ready to go get his permit. We check out the DMV website and find all the necessary forms of ID and paperwork that he will need, drive to the DMV, wait… and then eagerly head to the representative that’s going to help us. It turns out that between the two of us we DON’T have enough identification. Home we go to obtain enough forms of ID and ten years of report cards to ensure the DMV that we are, indeed, who we say we are. He passes the test, gets the permit and I take his picture standing tall and proud outside the DMV. Wow, this is a great moment, a slight snafu with the ID, but another great parenting moment in the books!
I’m silently congratulating myself when all of a sudden I see my son hold out his hand and ask for my keys. In an instant, 15 years are erased and I’m that scared mom back at the hospital. My son is in no way prepared to drive a car. It’s been a hot minute since he received his permit. This is dangerous! This is one of those moments where a decision has to be made. I shoot up an arrow prayer of protection, “Please God, let this child get us home safely.” I hand him my keys and slowly (oh so slowly) make my way to the passenger side of the car. He attempts to turn on the radio, “Let’s save the radio for another day,” I say as I have visions of him flying down the highway with Kanye blasting as a police chase ensues (yes, I do tend toward the dramatic). He gets us safely home. This does not mean that I’m in any way, shape or form LESS terrified. We talk a lot about safety and how to turn on the windshield wipers and how to navigate the roundabouts that are everywhere in our city. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I only screamed “BRAKE” 3 or 4 times. I do remember a significant hand cramp from where I gripped my door so tightly.
In the few months since getting his permit, he’s run a red light (he would say orange…I would not), run over a curb or two, forgot to put the car in park and hit a trash can. BUT he has gotten MUCH better. I’ve come to really enjoy the time we spend together in the car. It’s time just for us. We talk, we laugh, we tell stories. This little boy of mine is growing up and next month he will be 16. A few months after that, he will be able to get his Driver’s license and he won’t need me in the car with him anymore…most likely won’t want me in the car with him anymore. So, I’ve decided to approach these times with my student driver as precious moments that are just for the two of us. Time to know my son, hear him laugh, listen to his day. These times with him needing me are becoming less and less. I may not be able to let go of my death grip on the door but I’m going to be positive, full of praise, and enjoy this time with my boy. My baby is growing up much faster than I would like. I’m proud of the man he is becoming. I look back and think of that baby placed in arms of a scared new mommy. We have come so far and I’m so incredibly grateful for the journey. If you happen to see us cruising by and I have a look of sheer terror on my face, know that I’m doing my best and taking this motherhood thing one day at a time.