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Taillights and tears: Mom has one less passenger

Editor’s note: Contributing writer Jennifer Weaver shares this story about what she experienced when her son started to drive earlier this year.

For many parents of teens, that time will come in a few weeks as school resumes.

Many teens will be heading back to class on their own, driving themselves. Here’s Jennifer’s take on the experience.

Today begins a new chapter for our family. The mom taxi has one less passenger. Our oldest son got his restricted license and drove to school by himself. Watching him drive off brought forth a flood of familiar emotions. It reminded me of the pride, wistfulness and worry I felt as I left school on his first day of preschool. I felt it again on his first day of kindergarten and have felt it many times since.

For my son, driving is a huge step toward independence. For me, it is a huge step toward letting go.

Letting go

One of our biggest roles as parents is preparing our kids to make it on their own. The teenage years are a transitional time for kids, but also for parents. Our hearts break when they experience their first breakup or friendship betrayed. Suddenly, they have problems of their own that a hug and a bandage may not fix. They have to make many of their own decisions, and we are left to trust that some of the things we have taught them will make a difference. Driving alone may be the biggest step toward independence to date, but there are many more to come!

We’ve been preparing for this day for months.

I feel good about his driving skills. We've done our part, my husband and I. Our son has had driver training, he's passed the test and I've probably spent more than 100 hours riding with him since he got his permit last year. It is time.

Even though I know this to be true, I do think about the things I will miss. I will miss the car rides to school and the conversations that took place there. I will worry just a little bit until I receive a text that he has arrived safely at his destination. But there is much to look forward to as well as I watch my boy grow into a young man. I am looking forward to seeing where life will take him. And I have faith that some of those car ride conversation will still occur sometimes.

He does need gas, clothing and mom’s wallet for a while!

So as this new chapter began, I started it with a smile — encouraged and excited for my boy — and held back tears until his taillights were in the distance.

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