On the day your first child gets their driver’s license, you’ll want to do something nice for yourself

I didn’t think the day would really be about “me”, as a celebration lunch was in order for the new driver, followed by a few more stops for extra driving time.

Yet, it was a surprisingly sensitive day for me. I quite unexpectedly felt needy, self-conscious… I craved a vacation from the passenger seat.

Although I have twins, my daughter took her road test prior to my son. She is my independent child and seemed ready to bolt the nest since she was in the 8th grade. On the day she received her driver’s license, this child was beyond thrilled.

She was euphoric.

We’re talking natural “high”.

As I thanked the road test lady and buckled into the passenger seat, my daughter was giddy. She was laughing and dancing in her seat as much as the seatbelt would allow her to shake those slim hips. John Travolta disco arms began waving through the car. An 80’s song came on the radio as we pulled away from the curb. She raised the volume and began having her own rock concert. This girl would normally cringe over 80s music coming out of the speakers. Not today.

Today the child was “free”. Even 80s music wouldn’t kill her buzz.

So back to me 🙂 . I admired the high. The excitement of a world that just opened up to her for the first time. We had been through the first boyfriend only months before. She had that same sparkle in her eyes…the unknown…the unexpected trepidation that isn’t scary but thrilling.

I was truly happy for her. So much so that I was laughing hard at her excited blue eyes, her rocking singing, the anticipation of a new beginning where the parental boundaries would yet again, widen slightly.

The laughter left my eyes wet. Maybe the humor tears had morphed into a soft emotional tear…

I looked down wondering why I simultaneously had a strange sadness.

The sadness might have had something to do with the stomach softness that was protruding over my seatbelt. I sucked it in, pulled my waist band up over the pouch and straightened up a bit.

I suddenly wanted lipo-suction. If I had the money, I seriously might have called that afternoon.

The sadness might also have been about her leaving the nest more often. My anxiety would certainly rise as she carted girlfriends back and forth to practice and for frozen yogurt.

I was in mid-life, and her exhilaration made me want to call a travel agent. I wanted to capture that feeling for myself…staring at a crystal-blue ocean, the wonderment of Christmas morning, the first car, the driver’s license, the firsts….

In your 40’s, there aren’t many firsts.

When I was 20, I thought my 40s might be spent traveling the world. We’re too busy paying for our kids to travel the world, to play travel sports…our checkbook reflects the life of raising kids. The 40’s are steady. Sure, it’s still good, but it’s not wonderment.

As my precious first-born daughter belted out a song holding an invisible microphone at stop lights, I couldn’t help but laugh. She waved with delight to random, fellow drivers. Their eyebrows furrowed, indicating they thought she was another weird teen.

All I could do was embrace the moment. It was hers, not mine. Yet, as all parents know, there is something beautiful that we do truly participate in when they take the first steps or get their first driver’s license. We too are “thrilled”, just in a different way.

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15 thoughts on “On the day your first child gets their driver’s license, you’ll want to do something nice for yourself

  1. Mama's Empty Nest says:

    Oh, I remember those days. My oldest was still a bit timid about getting her license (we lived in a state where you could get a permit at 15 and in a very busy suburb with lots of crazy traffic), so she decided to wait and it was a wise choice for her. But my other two could not wait! It”s the first major step towards independence for teens and the first major step towards the empty nest for us parents.

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  2. Linda says:

    Absolutely! My youngest of four boys finally got his driver’s license this year…a momentous occasion – for him as well as for me! I felt your heart-wrenching sadness and exhilaration all at the same time 🙂 🙂

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  3. adrianahartley says:

    Loved this – especially touching on the 40s and loss of wonderment. I feel that too and didn’t know what it was. I am excited for the kids blossoming and wondering how I’m going to continue blossoming in my new role with them needing me less. Thanks for this post.

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  4. aviets says:

    Oooh, that is a difficult time. It opens up a whole new world of things to worry about, and yet it’s kind of nice to get some relief from the constant kid-ferrying. Our church does a driver’s license blessing for kids getting their first license, in which we celebrate their new stage of life and very carefully spell out the the huge responsibility they’re taking on, and praye for their safety and maturity. It’s pretty cool.

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