Today I understood how Chuck Yeager must’ve felt when he broke the speed of sound, when no one knew it would result in what we now know and easily explain with a casual “Oh. A sonic boom.” Except this had nothing to do with aircrafts or super-duper speeds or record-breaking flights or loud noises.
But it DID have to do with a moving vehicle, 25-30 mph speeds, a “first time” experience and an uproar from my family.
My baby…first born…only daughter…miiiieeee baaaay-beeeee –released from my womb just five minutes ago, but somehow now morphed into an inside-and-out beautiful 14-year-old young lady drove a car (well, a truck) for the first time today.
December 2, 2006. The day Napoleon was crowned emperor of France (1804)…and the U.S. Senate voted to condemn Republican senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”(1954) …and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established (1970)…and perhaps, most notorious, the day Britney Spears was born (1981).
I’m thankful to have been present for every milestone in her life, although it horrors me to realize I can’t remember all of them now. I remember being amazed at how well she nursed; so many of my friends and family had trouble with it they quickly gave up, but this tiny creature knew what she was doing as soon as given opportunity. I was certain she was a bona fide baby Einstein, the way EVERY first-time mom (and new dad!) deludes herself (barring complication); THIS for doing what comes as naturally as breathing and sleeping and peeing and pooping.
When she smiled ON PURPOSE at four weeks, in a moment’s turn, I knew I had a new vocation and would not be returning to my former dream job. I wasn’t one of those women who “just loved children” and counted the days until I could be home with them…this was a slow evolution for me. I recall a good friend offering a wise word of encouragement when I was struggling with insignificance…a scourge for the “professional” turned-stay-at-home mom–she simply reminded me I had been working in some capacity since high school, and this was a new phase of life…that I would actually have to learn how to be home with her. Somehow her matter-of-fact manner and assurance that it was o k a y to have to settle into this, made a huge difference.
I remember her first step at eight months–and her first stomp not long after. Obviously, an early walker, she was conversely a late talker. I worried, probably more about what other moms with children the same age thought, than about Rachel herself. That kind of thing just makes me sick now. I almost wince when I recall trying to coerce her (on more than one occasion) to “pray to receive Jesus in her heart” which I think now is neither scriptural nor what Jesus modeled himself. Her response? “Mom, I’m not ready…when I’m ready, I’ll pray on my own.” This wasn’t a tween speaking, this was a five year old. And one day she told me she had prayed, and that was about all there was to it…imagine that, without my “help”. :/
Jumping…riding a bike…learning to tie her shoes…turn a cartwheel…swim on swim team–and “win only the blue and red ribbons, not the pretty pink and green ones” (ha!)…brush her own hair, choose her own clothes, WIPE HER OWN BEHIND (a big “wahoo” and “amen” to that!). And read. And write. And WHATEVER! Gosh, if you have children, know some children, WERE a child, you KNOW all the milestones…I guess for me to reminisce is little more than a blogging Ambien to you.
But, if you have OLDER children, you know that as your children grow up, the milestones come fewer and farther between. Puberty. Driving. Dating. Voting. College. Legally drinking a glass of wine. A first “real” job. Marriage. Having a baby. Because there are fewer, their significance is magnified, perhaps even legitimately blown out of proportion.
But today. Today….
I wasn’t with her. I missed it. She was with Tad. He mentioned he might let her try it (she won’t be 15 til August, the legal driving age for a learner’s permit in TN), but it really wasn’t planned. I had a frustrating day of running the boys different places, frustrating more so because TWICE we got lost, and prior to that, were running late because the stuff we did early took longer than anticipated >:(. Minor, but annoying, and when it happens, I intimately understand “road rage”; if I’m not mistaken, my eyes turn red, my face turns green, horns sprout, and the thunderous, unrecognizable voice that bellows is not my own. My children become very, very quiet, I think they might even become invisible, they know it’s best to let my fire burn itself out. They’re all smart that way.
When Rachel called to tell me, the mother inside was shattered with a piercing sonic boom; I could feel the reverberations as every nerve in my body resisted this rite of passage. Time was spinning out of control, a familiar vertigo that knocked me off balance, unable to see into the future, only looking back. As I explained earlier, she WAS just born five minutes ago, I don’t care if we’ve celebrated 14 birthdays. How in the world did we get “here” in 12 blinks of an eye? Of course, the mother on the outside squealed with delight wanting to know every detail. I could hear her flushed with excitement, usually reserved for the eyes, but this time “seen” through my ears. She had to repeat it three times, once for me, then Stephen, then Thomas. Interestingly, they both wanted to know if she drove “over the bridge” at the front of our neighborhood; the next thing they asked was what it was like to go over the speed bumps. Funny, the things they wanted to know. They’re looking at her a bit differently now, with a reverence reserved for those lucky enough to have “d r i v e n a c a r”. If I’m not mistaken, I see a bit of sister worship going on. I think she just progressed on Thomas’ coolness radar, too.
And me? I’m writing about it so I can remember. The possibility of forgetting is enough to keep me up past midnight.