kelsey got started at pretty young age behind the wheel. at my parent’s place at the lake, she and my nephew would take turns driving back and forth to the office to buy candy. and then follow the narrow path back home, cruising the lakeside resort for adventure.
at tripp’s family’s lake house, kelsey could always be found in the driver’s seat of the go-cart, usually either her cousin or our miniature schnauzer jenny riding shotgun. the milk crate on the back held on with bungee cords, brimming with pinecones and stray tennis balls.
once she could reach the gas and brake pedals, tripp let kelsey drive his old, chevy truck. buckled up and with the seat all the way forward, my girl wore out the stretch of gravel road between our cabin and the next-door neighbor’s. circle drive to circle drive.
when she finally turned sixteen she was, of course, a natural. she flew through driver’s ed and passed her written exam with flying colors. then the day of reckoning…her driver’s test. i took the morning off from work and we drove to the testing site. kelsey has a habit of being super chatty whenever she’s nervous, so the whole way there we rehearsed, listed off things to remember. i was not one bit surprised when she passed.
and then my day of reckoning…the day she drove to school by herself.
no matter how well prepared kelsey was. no matter how much i trusted her skill and experience behind the wheel, watching my girl drive away was one of the hardest things i had ever done.
this part – letting go – for me this is the very. hardest. part of parenting.
but whether she is sixteen or twenty, motherhood is it is still pretty much the same thing…an overwhelming desire to protect my daughter, keep her safe at all costs.
the thing is…i can’t ride alongside her everyday and point out all the potholes. i can’t drive a mile ahead of her and warn her of the construction zones and drivers slamming on their brakes. because then what happens when i’m not around?
the paradox of motherhood is that if i was to follow my girl around and prevent her from experiencing the road and all of its danger, it would only cripple her. kelsey has to learn to how to navigate her own journey. she has to learn what to do when she comes up on bumps in the road. she has to learn how to navigate the brake lights and danger cones. this is how she gets stronger. this is the way she gains confidence for the long road ahead.
and so i do what i’ve done everyday single day since handing over the keys… trust that i’ve done everything i could to prepare her for the journey. and then i bow my head and i say a little prayer.
she can do this.
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