Why letting go is so hard

How preparing my kids for life is great for them but so hard for me. Breaking up is hard to do.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to learn to drive. It could have been because my Dad drove a race car and I spent many hours watching the major races with him on tv. But I have always wanted to drive and the small town I grew up in was the perfect place to take my first driving lesson. When I was around five years old, my Grandpa would take me and my brother on little test drives. He would allow us to drive down this long straight street which only fueled my designer to get my driver’s license even though I knew it was almost a decade away from becoming a reality.

I think I badgered my parents for months and months before I turned 16 reminding them of my pending eligibility to get my license. So it was no surprise when my son started asking my husband and me to take him to apply for his driver’s learning permit the moment he turned 15.

As his mom I was a little afraid. Sending your first born off in something as powerful as a car took my breath away. But I also understood his desire to drive and remembered that incredible feeling of excitement.

Since my son turned 15 in March right after we were all directed to stay home due to the pandemic, the driver’s license bureau was closed. When it reopened in the summer, there were new rules which meant no walk-ins and appointments had to be scheduled months in advance.

The week before his scheduled appointment in October, I overheard him telling his friends that he was finally going to get this permit. The excitement in his voice won me over and I was now excited for him too.

We stood in line with our documents in hand and I watched as he signed the paperwork for his new license. He smiled as he sat in the chair to take his photo and I could not help but think, “Where did all the time go?” How could this little boy be driving when it seemed like only yesterday that we brought him home in his car seat - yelling at every driver who came too close to our precious cargo.

When we got back into the car, I glanced over as he stared down at his new license with an expression of pure joy.

About a week later, he requested to go out for driving practice. “Sure,” I said. “Let’s go to the neighborhood next door where we can practice stop signs and a few turns before I drop you off at your friends house.”

I knew it was time to start letting go. I just didn't know how.

During the practice he did a great job. “You are doing great buddy. Do you want to keep going and drive to your friend’s house?” I asked. “Ok,” he said hesitantly.

We made it there safe and sound physically but I was not great emotionally. When he got out of the car. I waved goodbye, smiled and told him I’d see him tomorrow and then let the lump in my throat go and the tears flow. It was like he had taken a huge step toward independence that I was not prepared for.

I heard someone say that raising children is like the longest breakup ever. You watch them slowly let go of your hand a little bit at time. First it’s walking and talking. Then it’s playdates followed by sleepovers and weekends away. I’m in the final changes with my beautiful boy and I realize that now more than ever. I also knew I needed help mentally making that transition. If you are in the same boat here are some great articles that I found:

  1. Letting go of your teen.

  2. Recognized your son's need for respect series. (FREE and so good!)

I know. My job as his mom is to prepare him for life (at 15 years above and 5 years old below). But no one told me how hard it would be to prepare myself. But he is a great kid and a great student and he’s already a pretty good driver. I know he’ll be ok and eventually, so will I.

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