Last night was New Year's Eve...our first New Year's Eve with a legal teenage driver in the house. Yesterday I had grand plans for a New Year's Eve celebration for the boys. I planned the whole shebang out in my head, organizing thoughts about bringing in pizzas, sodas, chips, cookies....every teenage boys' dream menu. And then I asked Zach what his plans were, hoping against hope, he would say he wanted to spend New Year's Eve here with Libby, his girlfriend, and a group of his friends. My hopes were dashed as he said "I'm going to Libby's tonight."
And that's when I got scared shitless. My insides turned to ice as I imaged Zach driving the streets of Richmond at midnight. My eyes filled with tears and my heart thumped wildly in my chest as thoughts of Zach driving home on New Year's Eve filled my head. He's a new-ish driver. He's only been behind the wheel for a year and a half. He's a good, responsible driver but all my brain could envision were the other drivers ~ the ones who weren't responsible, the ones who were drinking and the ones who were going to kill someone with their careless, reckless, irresponsible behavior. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that Zach is a good driver. I could only see the other side and it scared the holy living shit out of me.
I know I need to let go, a little. I know Zach is growing up. I know Zach wanted to ring in the New Year with his girlfriend. And he deserves to all of these things. He has proven to us that he is trustworthy. I knew we had to let him go, test his wings just a little on this very scary night.
But we've all heard the horror stories of the drunks who kill and get killed on New Year's Eve. I know they are out there other nights of the year as well, but this one night is so highly publicized it makes it harder to ignore the fact that someone, somewhere will lose a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend because of another's stupidity in getting behind the wheel when their faculties are impaired. The horror stories are all I could think about yesterday as we talked about curfews, rules and the "safest" route home.
We made Zach swear up and down, sideways and backwards that he wouldn't touch one little, tiny drop of alcohol. We made him promise to be extra vigilant on his travels home. We agreed on a later curfew so he could ring in the New Year with Libby. He agreed to everything, easily, promising he would make his curfew with time to spare.
In all of the planning of his night we did have some moments of levity as he asked to spend the night at Libby's. Stan's deadpan response was classic "Zach, I think that may be the dumbest question you've ever asked me in your almost 17 years. Why won't I let you spend the night at your girlfriend's house? Why would I, would be a better question." Personally, I didn't think it was so dumb. I know if it were reversed and Libby were coming here, it would be an offer I would make to her and her family ~ to keep her off the streets at midnight. But Stan and Zach joked back and forth about the reality of Zach not spending the night at his girlfriend's house.
In the end of all of this, Zach put his car in gear around 8:30 and headed to Libby's as Stan and I walked across the street to our neighbor's gathering. We rang in the New Year with some fabulous friends and two/thirds of our children. At 12:15 I got the word, Zach's car just pulled up to our house. I stepped onto the front porch as Zach was getting out of the car with his arms raised in victory saying "See, Mom, I'm home alive!" My arms shot up as I let out a mighty whoop and got swept up in a 17 year old's giant bear hug wishing me a Happy New Year.
I will continue to get scared shitless as these kids grow and go to places outside the confines of our home and our family. But I can't hold them back because of my fear. I have to let them go, a little now, and a lot later. I may not like it but there's not much I can do about it except tell them I love them as they leave and hope they'll always remember that.
Oh, for the love of my children....