A while back, M and I were in the car on the ride home from school. And while car rider line often makes me crazy, the time between school and home holds moments I look forward to every single day. In that 10-15 minute window she often lets her 15 year old, teenage girl guard down and allows me to peek inside her world. She “spills tea” and shares secrets. She lets frustrations from the day seep out of the cracks she has worked hard to damn up for the past eight hours. She is sometimes quiet, and that’s okay too. But, often, she takes over the radio and finds music to fit her current mood and we find common ground over lyrics written for moments just like these. Today it was a new Thomas Rhett song called "This Old Truck". We’ve listened to it before and I liked it then, but today it resonated with me in a different way. Just read the chorus:
I grew up in it
Yeah, I got stuck in it
Playin’ our song on the stereo
Drivin’ til we ran outta road
Yeah, I broke up in it
I fell in love in it
Made a lifetime of memories
On a half tank of gasoline
I learned just who I wasn’t and who I was
In that old truck
And, as we sang along, each lost in the trail of our own thoughts, I couldn’t help but think that while I’m hearing these words and thinking back to the memories I’ve long ago made, she is likely dreaming of making memories all her own. Having a child in high school is so much different, so much more nostalgic, than having a child in elementary school. Think about it - we remember high school...for good or bad...those memories stick with us because they are woven into the fabric of the life we are now living. Whether you’ve tried to outrun them, or you loved every bit of them, those four years held moments that took you from a child to something resembling an adult. For the most part, I loved high school. I had great friends and was involved in everything I wanted to be in my little school.
So now, as I watch her high school life unfold, I’m often hit with memories that don’t seem all that far away. I see her with her friends and I think about moments spent with mine. When she talks about boys, I shake my head at all of the time I wasted wishing some boy would pay I attention to me and smile wistfully at the memories of a boy who finally stole my 16 year old heart. I think about how excited I was each time I stepped on stage for our annual school play, and how nervous I was to walk out of those school doors for the last time. But, mostly, I think about the fact that no matter how many years separate our high school career, she is, and I was, just a girl trying to find her way, navigating the lanes and trying to avoid the landmines that can make or break these four short years. In less time than it takes to pay off a car, she will be expected to make major life choices. In that same amount of time, I will be expected to let her go down whatever road those choices take her. She will face obstacles I can't protect her from, and learn from mistakes - many of which will impact her in ways I won't be able to understand because she will hold them close to her heart out of whatever myriad of emotions she will be carrying. But, no matter what, it is her adventure to live and mine to have a front-row seat to if I'm lucky.
These car rides are dwindling as we get closer to 16. In a few short months I won't have this time with her. Instead she will be making memories of her own, behind the wheel, or in the passenger seat, with the friends who will come to know her heart in ways I won't have access to. I truly hope that she always knows I am her safe place, her biggest fan, the one in the background with a smile of encouragement and the lap she will never outgrow. So, live your life, sweet girl. Make memories - some I will know about, and many I likely won't. Laugh and love boldly. Never stop doing the things that bring you joy. If you outgrow something, or someone, have the courage to admit it and then do something about it. And, as we navigate these next few years, give us both a little extra grace - especially in the really hard moments...I promise, I’m not trying to make your life harder, and I do remember being your age (even if technology has added things we didn’t have). If you continue to trust me, I will do my best to ride shotgun as you drive.