Learning to let go

In January we bought a used Prius. This was in preparation for my daughter Lydia getting her license and starting to drive. But days go by, time sneaks by and Lydia went the spring, and then the summer, without getting her permit. There was an issue with her social security number for months. But that eventually got resolved at the end of the summer. But throughout all this time it means that I often take her where she needs to be, whether to school or work. She does get rides from other people from time to time, too. But her college is further than where her high school was, and she recently transferred to a different Starbucks over twice the distance of the one she used to work at.

I do like the one on one time we get. Sometimes we talk about life. Sometimes we listen to whatever music or podcast I have on. Sometimes we just sit quietly. I like that. It’s still special to me. But my schedule is quite busy, and she turns nineteen this month. It’s time for her to drive herself places.

This morning was dark, it was cold, and it was rainy. It actually felt like November. Lydia worked at 7:15 am, so we left well before any light from the sun started to show up. We’re still two days away from switching back to standard time. It felt like it.

I’ve been intentionally paying attention to this season’s light each day. In the dark of the morning, it felt so different. Almost oppressive. There was still plenty of light, but all of it artificial. Street lights, car lights, building lights, window lights. There is a beauty to this light, too. Especially in the mist and haze of the autumn rain.

I picked up Lydia from work and took her to the DMV today. We attempted it last week, but we didn’t have the right documents with us. So this was our second attempt. She had the right documents this time and she was able to take her test without any issues and she officially has her permit. Once she turns nineteen, she can take the driving test and get her license.

Now I know it’s normal for parents of teenagers getting their permit or license to be nervous, to be scared even. Driving is a privilege that comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of risk. It’s dangerous, potentially deadly. I worry about this every time I drive even. I despise the need to drive places.

This in many ways has always been true for me, but it’s been especially true since my brother’s death, which occurred due to complications from a horrific car crash. I worry about such things for Lydia. It’s hard for me to let go of this sense of control, to let her drive and know that it’s dangerous.

Sarah and I haven’t had the privilege to go through all the milestones with Lydia. But this is a big one. It feels big to me at least. And it’s happening with us later than most. This milestone usually happens around sixteen or seventeen for most teenagers. But for us it’s eighteen and soon to be nineteen. And I guess I can feel a bit more at peace with that because it means she has that much more life experience (and frontal lobe development).

I’m guessing within the week we’ll go do our first father-daughter drive. It will be good for me, though. I’m not good at letting go. But this one I have to let go of.

I struggled sleeping last night. And because I was up at various times of the night, I can remember some of my dreams. This is extremely rare for me.

Last night I dreamt that I was with a friend driving in the Prius. It was early in the morning, well before the sun rose. And as I pulled onto the highway I realized how foggy it was. I couldn’t see even a couple feet in front of me. The light from my headlights just made things worse. So I decided that we needed to turn around and go home. In the process of me turning around I got too close to the edge of the highway which was along a very steep slope, and my tire slipped off the edge of the road and the car started sliding down the slope.

“No!” I said “I really liked this car! And I was going to give it to Lydia.”

My friend and I braced ourselves as we slid down. It wasn’t violent, but I was upset that I had clearly totaled the car, and that I was now in this very unfortunate circumstance. This was Lydia’s car. A gift I feel so privileged to be able to even give her, and now I had ruined it and was at the bottom of a cliff.

I woke up and needed to get ready to take Lydia to work. I looked outside through the window and saw it was dark, hazy, and raining. I made sure to be extra careful on my way to taking her to work this morning and thanked God that I hadn’t actually totaled the car.

Published by Andrew

a ragamuffin dad planting some sequoias

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