While he was snowboarding in Utah, Middle’s license arrived in the mail. He returned last night, ripped open the envelope and paraded around the house showing everyone the lovely laminated card. Free at last!
But this morning, he was downright squirrely about getting in the car. I had devised the perfect first trip. He could go to the bank to deposit a check he got from selling his old snowboard to a friend. Not too challenging. Very familiar territory. But he didn’t take the bait. Despite his professed excitement at his recently gained freedom, he remained parked in his room.
I realized that a little more motherly intervention was called for. I went into his room and told him, "Middle, you are a very good driver. You deserve your license. It will all be fine. Just go for it."
A little while later, he came out and nonchalantly announced, "I’m going to the Palisades to deposit my check and get some lunch."
"Excellent," I replied.
"What do I do about parking?"
Does anyone else remember how utterly, impossibly, intimidating parallel parking can be?
We ran through a few possibilities and he grabbed the keys.
"Wait,"I yelled, "I need a photo."
After I had taken his picture, he said: "I forgot my phone."
I ran back in and got it for him, turning it off as I returned.
"For one month," I declared, "No phone and no radio while driving."
He didn’t argue. Just smiled an exceedingly wide smile and adjusted his mirrors.
This is how we love each other around the big milestones. I want them to progress, of course. So do they. But we dance a little tango of ambivalence. When they resist the necessary forward movement, I provide encouragement. When they start to go, I think of any excuse to keep them back. As they take on new independence, they ask a question they already know the answer to. Anything to slow it down, this process of going away, of giving up the closeness we have shared for sixteen years.
The taillights disappeared around the bend. Gone.
Mothering is all about letting go when you want to hang on to the bumper for dear life.
He was back soon thereafter.
"You’re back! How was it?"
"I couldn’t find parking."
I know my job is to help them move forward, but when they offer to hang around for a little while longer, who am I to turn them down?