We reached a milestone in our family recently when my older daughter turned sixteen. Of course, this means that she is eligible to get her license, which will happen any day now. But beyond that, it is a symbol of independence and freedom that will forever change the dynamics of our family.
I remember the first time she rode a bike without training wheels. I can still feel the excitement mixed with fear in the pit of my stomach as she careened down the hill in front of our house, and I willed her brakes to stop on my command.
Now, I will send her out into the world behind the wheel of a car, hoping every moment that she returns safely. Eventually, it will become second nature - her driving away from our house and going about her independent life - but I know the first time she pulls out of the driveway, I will feel that same combination of joy for her and anxiety as a parent for her safety.
Truth is, she’s an excellent driver and I’m really looking forward to having her help with logistics in our complicated schedule. But I know that along with the driving will come increased time away from us, more time spent with friends and doing all the things we don’t always have time to drive her to in our busy lives.
I know this is a part of letting go, one little bit at a time, so when she finally goes off to college, we are ready, or, at least, as ready as we can be to send her into the world without us. So, sixteen is not just another birthday. It’s the birthday when my daughter will get wings. I will watch her fly away, say a silent prayer and hope she will always remember the way home again …