As we were riding around the parking lot, a car pulled in and parked near the entrance. The driver and passenger both got out and switched seats. It was a teenage girl and her mom. The girl had been driving and they switched for the mom to get behind the wheel. When they left, I found myself watching their car drive all the way down the street until I couldn't see it anymore. As I watched the car, I thought about how I will be that mom one day and how she was once me. I wondered if she saw the irony in our situations, me with my little girl on a bike, her with her big girl in a car. I immediately thought about how one day, in the not too far off future, I will be taking my little girl out to learn how to drive a car. And that thought terrified me. Not because I'm afraid of her being an awful driver, but because I realized it is inevitable that she is going to grow up.
I thought about how she will drive a car. She will go to high school. She will become independent. She won't need me as much as she does now. Not needing me is the scary part. She will have her own friends and a boyfriend. She will study and work and hang out with friends. She will go to college, she will meet the right guy for her and get married. She will have her own family. All of these things make me sad. Don't get me wrong - I want all of these things for Princess. I want her to be successful and happy and healthy. I want her to find love like I did and have a family of her own. I want her to experience the joy of being a mother and a wife. But at the same time, I don't. I just want her to stay little forever. I want to freeze time and keep her where she is in life. I like that she wants me around, and that she lets me fix her hair and give out snacks when she has a playdate. I like checking her homework and making her lunch. I like knowing where she is every minute of the day and night. I like being able to protect her from the world. I know that I won't always be able to do that.
While I was lost in these thoughts about the future, I heard "Mommy!" from across the parking lot and I snapped back to the present, to my little girl who needed a help getting started so we could race again. She hadn't even noticed the car come into the lot. I blinked back the tears from my eyes and rode over to my girl so we could finish our bike ride. As she was telling me about her day at school, I found myself really listening to what she had to say, because I realized that she won't always want to share every detail of her life with me. For now, I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible, and hope that the future stays distant. And when it comes to her driving a car, this is the only way I want to picture it.