Last week, my oldest daughter got her driver’s license. I have had 6 days to adjust to this new development and even though I am full of mixed emotions, I think I have been coping quite well.

With our graduating licensing system, I knew that I had a year before I had to really worry about her actually on the road on her own without me in the car with her. Her first attempt was in January, but she was unsuccessful. Although I was sad for her, because she doesn’t fail at anything she puts her mind to, a part of me was relieved that she could be a little girl for a while longer.

Her second attempt was scheduled for February. This time, Mother Nature stepped in and all road tests were cancelled for that day. Needless to say, she was beyond disappointed, but again, I could worry about the every day things rather than her operation of a motor vehicle.

But last week, the weather cooperated, my daughter was calm, and I was a basket case. Not because I was worried she would get it, I was actually worried she wouldn’t. I didn’t want her to go through another month of worrying and doubting her abilities. I told her to do what she needed to do to calm down and when I got the call at 3:15, she was ecstatic.

Even though she’s almost 17, I still get freaked out that I’m her mother. Not in a how did this happen kind of way, but in a I cannot believe that she’s mine and that she calls me mom kind of way. She doesn’t understand how much I worry about her (and her sister, of course). She has no idea that the first thing I do when I wake up is check to make sure they’re breathing. I actually stand at their doors and wait until I see the covers move up and down with their breathing. No one tells you this about motherhood. Yes, it’s beautiful and rewarding and most of the time, wonderful. But it’s also hard and trying and sometimes, it fucking hurts.

And another thing, how did I even get old enough to have a daughter old enough to drive?

I joke with her that she must get tired of people asking her if she has an older sister, but seriously, when the fuck did I get to be this old? I have never been afraid of birthdays and I’m not afraid of getting older. I’m afraid of dying, but not of getting older.

And although it should go without saying, I worry that something will happen to my kids. Even when they are safe in their rooms not 30 steps away, I worry about them. I do not express my worries to them, of course. I want them to live their lives as anxiety-free as possible. I would not wish my struggle with anxiety on my worst enemy. I think I have written this exact same line before, but nothing could be more true.

When my daughter wanted to go to Europe last year on a school trip, I let her go. She wanted to go to Quebec City on another school trip. I let her go there too. She deserves to be a kid. She deserves to have fun.

So now that she is a licensed driver, I am trying to give her credit for being such a fantastic kid. If she has the car, she has to text me before she leaves for a destination and when she arrives at the next one. If this doesn’t happen, she knows that she will lose her driving privileges.

On the upside, she has been responsible and respectful of the rule and she even put gas in the car!

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