Throughout the sixteen years parenting my son, I’ve done everything and anything to protect my baby. From the moment the doctor handed me my first-born in the hospital room, I became Momma Bear. My situation changed, it was no longer simply me I had to look out for, instinct set in, and he became my number one priority.
Each milestone brings a little more anxiety, more worry. From watching him cruise the furniture to finally taking his first steps, I stood by, close enough to help him, yet far enough to prepare him to do it on his own. It’s much like a dance, placing my overprotective hands in, then reluctantly pulling them away, letting him know I’ll always be here for him, yet teaching him independence.
One of the hardest jobs I’ve had as a parent is learning to let go enough to teach my children to become self-sufficient adults. A skill I haven’t quite perfected, nor am I sure I ever will.
It hasn’t been easy; the letting go bit wreaks havoc on my maternal instinct, to protect at any cost. The first time I let my Son walk to school on his own, I followed behind as if I was a secret agent, ducking behind trees and mailboxes so he wouldn’t see me. Looking back on this, I am surprised no one called the cops, I easily could have been mistaken for someone trying to abduct my child. What. A. Creep.
At first letting him out into the world on his own was excruciating, eventually, it became a part of the norm. Let’s be honest I can’t follow him around for the rest of his life. I want to, but alas, I cannot.
Amidst being a loving and protective parent, I’ve learned the added responsibility of knowing when my child is ready to take his next steps. Each child is different; my daughter is unequivocally more independent than my son.
Nonetheless, they grow and advance to the next stages in their lives. Knowing what their capabilities are at those stages is one of the most important jobs I have ever had as a Mom and one of my greatest struggles. It comes with the inner turmoil of querying whether I am overprotective or am making the best decision for my child.
As my Son turns sixteen, I find myself making the most difficult decision as a parent yet. The resolution to permit him to drive. Nothing so far has been this huge, this worrisome! My baby wants to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. And I have to make sure he is ready. Not only for his safety and my peace of mind, but also the safety of everyone on the road.
I am at a crossroad, between giving him the independence he craves and doing my job to protect him. I know my kid, probably better than anyone, this is why I will not let him drive until I am positive he is ready. And as it stands, at this moment in his life, I am not prepared to hand him the keys to the car.
For more than just the mere fact, my Son cannot seem to find his backpack on a daily basis, or his head if it wasn’t attached to his neck, I know in my heart it would be irresponsible of me to place him behind the wheel.
Every child is different, and my son is not yet in the realm of operating heavy machinery.
The responsibility is mine; I have to prepare my child to be a competent driver. In saying that, I believe my son is a responsible human being, but not mature enough to be on the road. The same road Mothers are driving their babies to doctors appointments on, or Dads are driving their toddlers to dance class. The same streets my daughter travels, as she walks to school with her girlfriends.
My job as his Mother is to prepare him for life as an adult. To help steer him in the right direction, and as the two of us argue about whether he should be driving. It is my responsibility to make such a decision. Assuredly one of the toughest decisions I have made as a parent to this date. To be fair, one I am not convinced is indeed correct, but so help me, one I’m not prepared to mess up.
Driving a vehicle is a privilege, and I want my Son to understand, with it comes accountability. Until I believe he has a grasp on that, he will have to wait to put the keys in the ignition.
I know I can’t hold him in my protective grasp forever, but with every new milestone comes a whole new set of worries. Parenting is hard, parenting a teenager who wants to get behind the wheel of a car is terrifying.
Eventually, I am going to have to allow him to learn to drive, particularly if I do not want to be his chauffeur anymore.
It may be in a few months, or next year, but as of now, neither of us are ready to travel down the driving road. Besides, it wasn’t long ago the kid rolled an ATV down the side of a Mountain (under my Brother’s supervision, something I may never let go). Driving a car is huge, and I get it, he has to eventually. But damned if I let him get on the road before he’s equipped with the skills he needs.