Celebrate Your Tribe



Yesterday my daughter passed her driver’s test. She has her license and now she just does all the things herself. She drives herself, fixes her own breakfast and lunch, does her own laundry. She no longer needs me to fix her fun snacks in the shape of a sunflower. She doesn’t need help reading or spelling or adding numbers.

She just needs me to answer ridiculous questions like, “Can I go to a late movie with a guy?”

She is completely independent now and everything is stupid. I am not sure why I even exist anymore.

I cried all day yesterday. I was completely pathetic as I formed thoughts like: “This is the last time I will ever drive her to school.” And, “She will probably just stop talking to me altogether now because I am useless.” And, oh, this one: “She is driving away from my heart forever.”

Pathetic.

I called my parents and asked them, “How do you do this driving thing? This growing-up thing? This whole independence thing? Because my heart has died.”

My dad was very pragmatic: “You simply let her go and make sure she follows all of the driving rules.”

My mother was more symbolic. She said “Heather, you have been programming a person for 16 years. Today was the first time you pushed ‘play.’ This has been your mission for 16 years now. There will always be glitches. What you are feeling is exactly what you should be feeling. She is getting ready to launch herself into all of it – the good, the bad, and everything in between – and she is going to do something great.”

Of course, this made me cry even more. Because my daughter really is seeing the world all on her own. Ahead of her and through the rearview mirror.

My girlfriends have stepped up, spoken up and reassured me that life for her will be great. Even though they drive off as teenagers, my friends tell me, they come back as adults – who want to be your friends, eat your chicken pot pie, and watch movies with you. Furthermore, when they come back as adults, they can also drink wine with you and tell you about all of the adventures they have been on because you programmed them well.

Thank goodness for moms and girlfriends. They get me through everything, including this driving and growing-up thing we do with our kiddos.

Ladies, this is Women’s History Month. What a perfect time to love on your tribe: those wonderful women who help you raise your daughter and pass you glasses of wine – OK, bottles of wine – as you answer questions like, “Can I go to a 9:30 movie with a guy?”

Stop it. JUST STOP, DAUGHTER!

This month, our tribes should be celebrated. Mothering is the backbone of our nation. Mothers raised the women who did life-changing work like Alice Walker, the civil-rights activist and author of “The Color Purple.” Cheers to the ladies in Alice Walker’s mom’s tribe who supported her while she grew her daughter and watched her fight injustice. I like to think they hugged that momma and supported her by saying things like: Alice is strong and independent; she is fighting for a just cause and you raised her to see the world through her own eyes.

And can you just imagine what it must have been like to be Amelia Earhart’s mom? Seriously, I can’t even. I am worried about my daughter driving off, while Amelia’s mom had to worry about her daughter flying away. Serious kudos to the women who held Amelia’s mom’s hand as Amelia flew across the ocean for the first time.

Girlfriends make it possible for moms to be strong enough to raise strong, independent daughters who will make history.

So, this month, I am giving three cheers:

Cheers to all the moms whose girls are getting their drivers’ licenses this month; I raise my glass to you. You are setting the future of female history. One of our girls is going to be the next Amelia. One of us is going to have an Alice Walker, Katherine Johnson, Marie Curie, Dorothea Huerta, Ada Lovelace or Josephine Baker. Can you imagine how glorious it will feel to finally press “play” and see our daughters impact history?

Cheers to our daughters, our independent history-makers whom we helped grow and raise. We love you – and, no, you cannot go to a late movie with a guy.

And cheers to all the girlfriends who have helped us mommas lay the foundations for our daughters. You have gotten us through the good, the bad and everything in between. You have helped raise the girls that tomorrow’s history books will celebrate; you held our hands as we taught them to be independent, to drive, and to see the world around them by looking ahead and through the rearview mirror. God bless all the girlfriends everywhere. You are my people.