Driving Toward Acceptance
My baby is approaching a big milestone.
I remember, when my pregnancy with Ruby progressed to a point where I no longer worried every second that the pregnancy would end in miscarriage like my first one did, I suddenly switched gears and became terrified of labor and delivery. Pushing a fully formed human out of my body didn’t seem like a fun time. Then, late in the pregnancy, when it became clear that she was staying stubbornly head-up and I would need a C-section, I became terrified of having surgery. A doctor pulling a fully formed human out of an incision in my body didn’t seem like a much better plan, honestly.
My coworker, who had two kids already, gently laughed at me when I told her how scared I was.
“I feel like … I don’t know … like I’ve climbed up too high in a tree and I don’t know how to get down,” I said. “This baby has to come out; I know that. I just don’t feel like there’s a good way to get her out.”
“Oh, honey, there’s not,” she said frankly. “But there will come a point when you’re so tired of being pregnant and so uncomfortable that you truly don’t even care if they pull the baby out through your nostril.”
I didn’t believe her. But six weeks later, I was so huge and miserable, peeing every 5 minutes and unable to take a deep breath because I had a human head in my ribcage, that I realized she was correct. I was officially so sick of being pregnant that I had overcome my fear about having major abdominal surgery while fully conscious.
Now almost exactly 15 years later, that situation seems applicable to how I feel about my kid getting her driver’s license. Yes, it’s completely panic-inducing to imagine her driving 70 mph on the highway. Yes, my heart pounds and my palms sweat when I think about all the things that could go wrong. But I am officially so tired of being her on-call Uber driver and trying to navigate not just traffic and the potholes but also her constantly changing plans that I have (almost) made my peace with the idea of her getting behind the wheel.
She turns 15 just before Christmas and is planning to enroll in drivers ed after winter break with the ultimate goal of getting her license on her 16th birthday. We took a little practice spin around the cemeteries this weekend: It’s the perfect place to learn to drive because there’s no traffic but plenty of intersections to learn how to stop and look both ways and turn. After a brief but harrowing mixup between the gas and the brake, I’m pleased to report that she did great, hands at 10 and 2, gentle acceleration, smooth braking. She even used her turn signals, which is more than the majority of licensed NOLA drivers can say.
I’m not any more ready for her to become a licensed driver than I was to give birth, to become a parent, to send her off to kindergarten or middle school or summer camp, to put her on an airplane.
But ready or not, it’s happening.
Buckle up, everyone.