Big daughter passed her driving test this week. It’s a milestone in what’s going to be a year of milestones – A Levels, Peru, university – and she’s very pleased to have ticked this one off the list.
Six months ago, I couldn’t imagine being driven around in my car by my daughter, and yet that’s what we’ve been doing for the last month, getting ready for her test. I expected that it would feel strange, awkward and uncomfortable, but in actual fact it felt fine. I’ve put this down to the fact that I’ve had since her 17th birthday to get used to the idea that she is driving, and if her instructor was coming home without any more grey hairs or a panicked expression then it must all be going well. Those driving baby steps have got me to the point where I’m comfortable being a passenger in my own car.
I think this is how we’re able to cope with most things that aren’t a sudden intrusion on our lives. It’s a well worn expression these days, but by taking baby steps we can learn a new skill, live a new way of life and accept something that is unusual as a regular part of our everyday. We often feel safer if things don’t happen too quickly, preferring to have time to absorb the changes more slowly until we realise that we’ve actually taken a huge step from our starting point – and that feels good. I never thought I would be ready for big daughter to drive, or go to Peru, or university, but now that the day it all happens is getting closer and because we’ve had time to prepare for it, I’m less distraught about the whole idea than I expected to be.
It makes you realise that we can do anything if we take it just one step at a time. I heard someone say recently that nobody would be ready to climb Everest tomorrow but everybody could train to climb Everest tomorrow, and it struck me that his words were very true. The longest journey starts with a single step and we are all many miles into our journeys now. Sometimes we take detours, sometimes we run and sometimes we feel that we are stuck in the mud, but for the most part we keep going forward and the act of metaphorically putting one foot in front of the other is what helps us to achieve pretty much anything that we put our mind to.
I know that the thought of leaving us for a month to travel is quite daunting for big daughter, but I also know that every time we put something in her rucksack or walk another mile in training, she’s taking those steps to making it all feel more natural. By the time she leaves, it will feel like she had never planned to do anything else. In the meantime though, I might need to hide my car keys!