Since I began home-schooling my daughter, Jazlyn, 17, a few months ago, her stress has decreased and her grades have improved. She has enjoyed dance classes and visiting her grandmother, Rose Beebe, 88, at the Alzheimer's facility.
However, there was one thing that Jazlyn really, really wanted: her driver's license.
I told Jazlyn she would have to get a job first to pay for car insurance and gas. Motivated and optimistic, she started filling out applications in several places but was surprised when no one called her back.
I explained to her that without experience, it's tough to land employment. In a competitive market, Jazlyn soon realized how scarce and valuable jobs truly are. She got discouraged and figured it would be a long time before she would have the most coveted of teenage privileges.
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But her luck shifted recently when she asked if they were hiring at Rullo di Pasta, an Italian restaurant where she eats after her dance classes. The manager told her to come in for an interview the next day. He liked her personality and attitude and hired her to work the lunch shift. She was ecstatic to have her first job and eager to learn the ropes of the restaurant business.
Jazlyn quickly learned to take orders, deliver food, use the cash register and keep things clean. She came home enthusiastic and full of purpose. These new life skills did wonders for her self-esteem. I was proud of her for moving into the adult world with such confidence.
With Jazlyn meeting my requirements to get her license, we headed to the DMV. I held my breath as she walked out the door with the instructor. Unfortunately, when they came back 10 minutes later the news wasn't good. Jazlyn failed the road test. She touched the curb on her three-point turn, and her stop at a stop sign was declared too "spongy."
The instructor told her she could retry in a week. The tears were streaming down her face before we even got out the door. Jazlyn was devastated, and it was a long, silent ride home.
Normally this melancholy would have lasted a few days, but the next day Jazlyn got something she had been wanting just as much as her license: She got her braces off. Suddenly she was obsessed with her smile and looking in every mirror she passed.
With her newfound confidence, Jazlyn was determined to retake and pass the road test. The next driving test was a breeze, and the instructor told me Jazlyn did "exceptionally well." She was elated and relieved. Now her stress was over and mine just beginning.
There is nothing to prepare you for the moment your child takes the keys and drives off. This precious being that I had worked so hard to nurture and protect was giddily getting behind the wheel to pick up a girlfriend to go shopping. I couldn't believe the time had come to let Jazlyn set out into a world that moves much faster than I'd like.
Suddenly I felt very alone as I watched her blow me a kiss and pull out of the driveway. Tears streamed down my face and I felt a pang of sadness.
It seemed like yesterday we were playing with Barbie dolls, and now she was making her own money and driving to the mall to spend it.
Jazlyn had grown up so much in just a week that it took me by surprise. I realized that my work raising her was pretty much complete. I would have to trust that I had done a good job and that she would make smart choices.
When she returned from her outing, she happily glided into the house and wrapped her arms around me. She could see I was a little misty about her new independence and said, "Mom, you don't like me driving, do you?"
I told her I would worry. . She put her hands on my shoulders and replied, "Mom, you've got to let me go. I'm going to make some mistakes, just let me make them. It will all be OK."
And I knew she was right, my wise young woman. A new chapter in both of our lives has begun. With a deep breath and a prayer, I am letting go.
Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.