Huh. Seems I didn’t write a post for the Girl Child’s 14th birthday last year. She turned 14 anyway, and now here we are at 15. Already.

Which also means that I have been a mom for 15 years. Those baby days are so far behind me, it’s hard to recall what they were like. I see photos and am reminded of points in time, but the people in them (myself included) seem like strangers or maybe people I once knew.

We took the kids out of school for one day last week to get away early for spring break. The Girl Child’s high school frowns upon this sort of thing, calling them “unexcused absences”. Which I think is silly.  When it comes down to it, the trip we took will be remembered far longer than missing one day of school. And at this stage in the game, family trips like that will be farther and fewer between.

Time in these crucial years is running out and I admit to a bit of panic. What if I’ve been doing it all wrong?

There has been yelling. And impatience. Frustration. Waiting for the bad times to pass. Meanwhile maybe missing some good moments along the way.

A big regret – not enough hugs as the kids get older. My own fault, falling back into the routine I grew up with. I need to change that while I still have a few years.

But there has also been big love, even when we aren’t each other’s favorite person. Silliness. Saying I’m sorry. Encouragement. Growing inside and out. Tolerance and acceptance. Pride.

Fifteen is a tricky one. Just on the cusp, more adult edging out the kid. Needing to let the adult out to make decisions, letting her see where her choices take her while so wanting to protect her, especially in this crazy new world. It’s not my fifteen.

And it never will be. This is HER world now. I will still be there to cushion where I can, nudge when I need to – sometimes even a strong PUSH. But maybe the best thing I can do now is sit back and wait, spot her a little, and clap the loudest and proudest at her successes.

And I know there will be many.

Happy Fifteen.

photo booth, circa 1999

photo booth, circa 1999

highway to hell

This weekend we are going to spend a few days at Seabrook on the Washington coast, with the Professors. It’s a super cute little planned community with houses that look like they belong in Nantucket.

It’s about three hours away and I am looking forward to some ocean air and down time. Except for one thing.

I have to drive. On the highway.

I HATE driving on the freeway. I don’t even like to BE on the freeway. In my everyday life, it’s not so much an issue – I commute by bus, and living in the city means you can pretty much get anywhere by surface streets.

I don’t mind the actual driving, and I am not a bad driver. Unless The Geek is in the passenger seat – that makes me nervous.

But the freeway. Too many tons of metal going way too fast, operated by people too busy texting or talking to pay attention to the road.

It wasn’t always like this. Over college breaks, I drove from Kent to work at Bellevue Square. I can remember driving to downtown Seattle one time, too. But somewhere along the way, it became scary. A few years out of college, I made plans to drive to central Oregon to visit family. I made sure I left really early so I could avoid traffic, but it was still nerve-wracking. I’ve driven to IKEA a few times, a route with some crazy merges. One time a rain squall came through followed by blinding sunlight. By all rights, I should have hit something on the exit ramp – I could not see a thing.

The merging, especially, is stressful. I will scope out on-ramps that shoot you onto your own lane if possible. But that pales next to the I-90 tunnel. The few times I’ve had to drive that, I held my breath the whole time. And it’s not a short tunnel. It is very narrow – the margin for error is very small.

It occurred to me as the departure date approached that maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And lo and behold, it’s a thing! Freeway phobia! Lots of people have this problem too! Have to say that made me feel a bit better – that I’m not the only loser whose adrenaline kicks when the speedometer goes over 40 and you’re 4 feet away from big metal boxes.

I read some tips about writing down affirmations, getting hypnotized, hiring a coach. But what seems to be most effective is just doing it – getting on the road and facing your fears. No, I can’t control anyone else on the road. BUT I also can’t control anyone else on the bus or in line at Starbucks.

So Friday morning, I will load up my family and head south on I-5 at 60 mph. I will breathe slowly and deeply. I will make a playlist. I will load the directions on my phone. I will try to have faith that I can do this. (Maybe you could keep your fingers crossed, too? Every little bit helps.)

At least I don’t have go east through the I-90 tunnel. A girl has her limits. One thing at a time.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

I hope the traffic looks like this.