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My Daughter’s a New Driver and I’m Learning How to Let Go

Dear Daughter,

You’re gone all the time since you’ve gotten your license. You take your grandma’s old car and drive everywhere, all day, every day, until late into the night. You’re so busy and I’m proud that you are being so reliable about your responsibilities. You are growing up and building a life for yourself, and it’s an incredible thing to witness.

I admit; it’s hard to accept that your life is becoming your own.

It’s amazing how things changed so drastically once you got your license. I didn’t anticipate this. I should have seen it coming, but I guess I was too busy driving you around to expect things would be so different once you were behind the wheel.

Just a few months ago, I was the one constantly in the car, idling in parking lots waiting to pick you up, racing to this place or that place to get you there on time. Our time in the car was precious—and sometimes it was the only time I had you to myself.

I loved every minute of it, despite all the irritating times we were stuck in traffic or I sat in the car waiting longer than I would have liked for you to come out from wherever you were.

You had a crazy busy schedule and you depended on me for all of it. As maddening as it was to keep up with it all, I find myself wishing I could be in that car with you once again.

As your Uber mom all these years, I was also your confidante, cheerleader, and counselor. I got to hear all about your experiences and talk you through exciting opportunities, hard feelings, and difficult decisions. All the time we spent in the car was filled with conversations that developed our bond and I’m so thankful for that time.

Now you come through the door with a smile on your face and give me a sentence or two about what you did and how it went. It doesn’t feel the same. I want more. But you’re tired and need to get to bed, or you’re hungry and need to eat before you leave again for the next thing going on in your day.

And I get it. I really do.

You aren’t being dismissive. You are simply trying to keep up and be responsible with a demanding schedule that takes commitment and time management. But I miss hearing about all the details of your day. I miss being a part of it all.

Your life is taking off fast and I know these last few years at home are fleeting. You are preparing the path toward a future filled with dreams and goals. You are developing all of these important life skills and learning to do hard things on your own. And that’s the way this is supposed to be.

I’ll keep waiting at home for you, wondering how you’re doing and if you’re safe. I’ll keep thinking about how fast you are growing up and how proud I am of who you are and who you dream to be. I will anxiously await your texts, checking in and telling me you’re doing okay. I’ll ask when you’ll be home and I’ll wait to see you walk through the door again and hear your updates about all the things you’re doing.

And I’ll hope that you always know I am here, loving you, believing in you, missing you, and wishing that time would slow down so I don’t have to let you go.

But at this stage of parenting, that’s what it’s all about. Letting go.

So I’ll wave goodbye, over and over again, and keep trusting that you will make good decisions when you’re out in the world without me. Very soon, the wait for you to come home will be longer than a day or an evening. Hopefully, when the time comes, you’ll still check in and tell me you’re doing okay.

I hope you will still include me in your life, even when you don’t depend on me or need me as much.

Most of all, I hope that I’ll be ready to let you go.

Christine Carter

Christine Carter writes at TheMomCafe.com and her work is published at a variety of online publications. She is also the author of Help and “Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World.”