Picture this: It’s New Years Eve and my nineteen year old (home from college) has left our home for a small gathering at a friend’s house. Before long she returns with her friend Kelly ~ it ends up that it’s just the two of them for the evening, so they have decided to accept an invitation for a party at the apartment of a friend – three hours away. She and Kelly stand before me asking if it’s OK if they go on this road trip…on New Years Eve…at 6:00 PM.
“Ummmm….NO. It’s not OK with me. This is the most dangerous night of the year to be on the road.” (Bold and italicized to let you know how that actually sounded out loud – because it is what I said.) The girls say they will understand if we say no, that Kelly’s parents weren’t exactly happy about it either. But in the end, they said that their daughter was twenty years old and ultimately would have to make her own decision. Well, thanks for that. (Said in my head.)
So I head to the garage to talk to Kevin about this, his reaction is the same as mine. (Good.) I tell him it does feel tricky because she is nineteen, and when she’s at college we don’t even know about decisions that maybe are not the most wise. Regardless, I just don’t think it’s a good idea for her to head out. He agrees. No way, not a good idea. I ask him if he’ll come in and tell her that.
As the conversation unfolds, the next thing I am hearing is that she will have to make her own decision. WHAT??!! NO!! What is happening??!!
I tell her I will pay for her and Kelly to go to dinner and a movie if they will stay in town. (Desperate, I know, but I don’t care.) Courtney looks at me and asks if I will be mad if they go. I say yes. I also tell her that I will get over it. (As long as they return safely the next day.) She thanks us for our wisdom, input and the discussion; then she says they are going to go ahead and go on this road trip and she ran upstairs to pack a bag.
I am left standing with frustration, anger, fear and prayers in my heart.
I hug them each, look Kelly in the eye and tell her to make wise driving decisions and to not play the radio loud. (Full on mom talk.) Courtney did text several times on the way down, advising me of a stop for gas as well as a restroom break, and then with their arrival. I also received a text at 3:30 AM telling me “Good night”. She then sent a text in the morning to let me know they were on their way home and of any stops along the way. All good stuff.
This situation was a hard one for me. I did (do) not want to let her go. I wanted (want) to say no and have that be the right and final answer. It used to work that way. But in order for her to grow and for our relationship to grow, I am learning to let go in new ways all the time. It’s a never ending exercise in restraint, relinquishment and reality. I want her to value my input and seek it, trusting that ultimately I will step back and let her decide. This does not come naturally for me but I am willing to adjust, move and grow. I love her so much that I hold her close and let her go.