Later I’ll recall I was examining the floral applique on an Eddie Bauer tee when my “Oh-I-love-it!” was rudely interrupted by the ringtone vibrating my pocket. Caller ID indicated it was my daughter, and there were a nanosecond of confusion–how was she calling me? She was supposed to be at Student Venture.
Her breathless “I’m okay mom…” froze the blood in my veins.
That’s what everyone says when they’re not okay.
Her words didn’t make sense, but intuitively I knew she had been in a wreck. What I didn’t know was where she was…was she calling from a stretcher? Was she on the side of some road, bloody and broken, somehow managing to make a single call?
My 17-year-old first-born daughter was crying and someone else was now speaking and telling me they were alright and explaining what happened but I wasn’t convinced and I certainly wasn’t processing well–I just wanted to get in my car and start driving in spite of STILL not knowing where they were.
I gave the phone to my husband.
I listened much better watching him listen.
She was rear-ended in an accident that wasn’t her fault. The lady who hit her admitted this to my husband, and by the time she called us, the police were already gone. The car was drivable. We didn’t need to come because the girls wanted to go to their group.
We headed in their direction anyway–I needed to touch her. By now, I believed she really was fine, but there was an urgent need to see for myself, to kiss imaginary boo boos, before she’d really, REALLY be fine.
Children need their mommies, right?
She begged us not to come. I knew that would be her response. She needed to settle before seeing us; to get back on that horse before she grew to fear it.
I hated it, but I respect it.
One of our intentional goals in parenting has been to encourage our kids’ independence from us, appropriately, relative to their age. Rachel will be 18 in a few months, she’ll graduate high school a year from now. Her heart and spirit challenge my own in the best of ways and she makes me want to be a better mother, a better person.
There’s a cost to your babies growing up and becoming more independent, one you don’t realize until it happens: it stings the mama when they don’t need boo boo kisses anymore.
There’s no point in considering the “what-ifs”…but I’ve whispered “thank you, Lord” a thousand times, maybe more.
I watch the clock until I hear her car pull in the drive. We all rush to see her (and her younger brothers, to inspect the car). I hold her, tight, reluctant to let go. She holds on a little longer, too.
She expresses surprise (and relief) we weren’t mad, but she won’t understand that until her children are behind the wheel. She tells me the sound of impact keeps replaying in her mind. I tell her she’ll be telling this story when she’s my age.
The wreck was a best-case scenario; no one was hurt (she had a passenger), the car is fixable, the lady has insurance, and my daughter wasn’t at fault. I’m sure she’ll be a better driver as a result. She certainly has a clearer understanding of why we ask her to text or call when she arrives at her destination.
Because I’m acutely aware it could’ve been a different scenario if timing was altered mere seconds, I’m more convinced than ever–
…parenthood is not for sissies.