August 10, 2016

In the Driver’s Seat

My daughter was one of those kids who dreamed about getting her driver’s license since she was young. On the morning of her 16th birthday, we were first in line at the Motor Vehicle Branch, until I realized we needed her passport for identification. We made the detour loop home and she had her learner’s license in hand and was behind the wheel of my car by 9:30am as she drove oh so cautiously and proudly to school.

Over the course of the year she put in countless driving hours. I think one of her highlights and certainly one that I will never forget was her driving our truck from Lake Tahoe to Reno, my sweaty hands gripping the sides of the passenger seat as we hurtled down the mountainside.

As her seventeenth birthday approached, I tried (not doing a fantastic job) to be excited for her impending road test. She was a pretty good driver and her instructor agreed. Part of her lesson package included an hour of driving instruction before her road test; she would take the test in the instructor’s car and then be driven home or in her case to school. My only part in her milestone event was paying her licensing fee, should she pass. We all have moments that we dread, once they happen there is no turning back and nothing is the same, this was one of mine.

The morning of her test, I was teaching in my Studio. Fortunately the group of ladies in attendance were all long time clients and friends, so when my cell phone rang as we were stretching I was able to pick up. At my first job as a receptionist, the lady who trained me told me to smile when I answered the phone, even though the person on the other end couldn’t see me, my smile would come through in my voice. It’s something that I have never forgotten. As I held my cell phone to my ear, I said hello with the biggest possible smile that I could muster, I could hear the excitement in my baby’s voice as she said she passed. I congratulated her and told her how proud I was of her, my clients all woo-hoo’d in background. I made it through the call intact, placed my phone on the floor beside and resumed the stretching pose that I had left the ladies in before I took the call. As I laid my head on my mat a voice from the class said “and now Keri cries”. Who was she kidding, I was already sobbing. It was a moment and my ladies let me take it. My Studio was silent, I am quite certain that they could all hear my heart breaking a little.

I know that so many parents are able to immediately embrace and celebrate their child’s independence; some even look forward to it. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for her and I knew that it was inevitable, but I just couldn’t help feeling that I would no longer be needed with her new found freedom.

I’m not going to lie, the last few months have been tough, but I have been working my way through it and feel that I am coming out on the other side. It’s hard to let go, even just a little, but it is part of being a parent. I know that even though my job description as a Mum has changed and will continue to change, Rylee will always need me and that I will always be a VIP in her life. I have also learned to never minimize the feelings of others, no matter how well meaning the advice may be. Most importantly I have started to embrace my own independence. I have put my life and career on the back burner for many years and it’s high time to spread my own wings, there are so many things that I want to do, books I want to write, marks I want to make and so much life to enjoy.

Lookout world, the Cawthorne girls are coming for you!

any momentous journey deserves a car selfie, this was our first trip in Rylee's car

any momentous journey deserves a car selfie, this was our first trip in Rylee’s car

Miss Independent - could her smile be any bigger?

Miss Independent – could her smile be any bigger?

but she will always be my baby

but she will always be my baby

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