My oldest child got his driver's license today.
I don't like it much.
Oh, I know it will be handy to have another driver around. And yes, he's going to be 18 this summer, so it's time. He's a good, sensible, responsible kid, and I have no concerns about him running off to wild parties or picking up strange women or whatever. It's just....he's the first one. My first one. It's a little weirder than I expected.
I've always joked that when my last kid turns 18, we're changing all the locks. I love my children dearly, but I have never seen myself as being defined solely by motherhood. It's a lifetime job, for sure, and (at times) a very consuming one, but it's not all there is to my life. In fact, I look forward to having time to pursue my interests without stopping to make lunch, or run someone to the dentist, or referee another sibling "discussion". So I'm a bit perplexed by just how odd it feels to have Luke taking this first big step towards leaving the nest. What's up?
Oh, I know what's up. Change is what's up, and change - even normal, healthy, good-for-you change - rarely takes place smoothly. While the kids are learning to be adults, I'm learning to let them be adults, and that means looking at them (and myself) in very different ways. I can't just look at them anymore and think "Aw, they played really well together today!" More and more I find myself having discussions with them about things like a friend's poor relationship choices, or whether they really feel they could be passionate about ____ as a career, or what the latest political brouhaha means to us here in the midwest. And I look at myself and wonder "Did I teach them how to stick with it when things get tough? Have we given them the skills to be successful adults?" On and on and on....dozens, hundreds of questions, and the only way they'll be answered is by letting my little birds fly and seeing how they land.
When your kids are little, you worry about things like ear infections, and are they getting enough green veggies, and will that child EVER be potty-trained? Then they get a little older, and it's stuff like learning their multiplication tables and how to ride a bike. Middle school comes along, and all of a sudden you're dealing with hormones and mean kids and why can't I have clothes just like so-and-so? Each stage gets harder, for the child and the parent....and even though you know that intellectually, dealing with it emotionally is something else altogether. So I know this isn't the end, by a long shot. We still have high school graduations and college choices and first romances and all that other stuff to deal with up ahead.
Yep, lots of changes coming, for all of us. But Luke and Seth just walked in from Luke's first solo trip to the store, laughing together like a pair of hyenas, and somehow I'm reassured that these changes can be faced with a smile.