National Daughters Day and the Beauty of Our Journeys — In Life and Behind the Wheel

Teaching a child to drive gives her freedom and confidence and us, well, heartburn. National Daughters Day reminds us to do the hard thing and give her skills for life

National Daughters Day

My daughters are passengers on my journey, and me on theirs.  

There is hardly a rite of passage like teaching a child to drive. It pulls all the strings and pushes all the buttons, all at once. While it’s hard to believe your child is old enough to drive and you’re proud of her maturity, you’re also terrified of this huge step and the potential danger it puts her in.

But, giving her that mobility and freedom – and feeling your own separation and anxiety – is part of parenting. We know this skill will serve them for a lifetime, giving them the confidence to do hard things, the ambition to try something new, the ability to forge their own way. So, on National Daughters Day, here’s what I wish for my own daughters as they find their own mobility.

Related: 6 Safe Driving Tips to Model and Teach Your Teens

National Daughters Day

Photo: Kerri Gristina

To My Oldest on National Daughters Day

You are now a driver, too. I know it wasn’t easy for me to watch you become a driver. You are cautious, and it is my job to step back and watch you go — although at times, I was not ready. You were, and you soared.

While at college, I know you will do great things and be an amazing person and a friend to all. You are an empowered, confident woman. Always keep your eyes on the road and be aware of your surroundings. May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy.

Related: 5 Driving Mistakes Most Moms Make and How You Can Avoid Them

National Daughters Day

Photo: Kerri Gristina

To My Middle Daughter

I did my best to watch your sister begin driving, and I know I needed to take a breath and let it all happen. Now, I turn around, and this spring, you will get your permit. Deep breaths, deep breaths for me. Not you. You, too, are ready.

You are passionate about all that you do, and you amaze me with your talents from flute to volleyball to designing and sewing. In a few months, we will start our journey driving together, and I know that you will begin to drive with the same precision seen in all that you do. Just like everything else you do, it will now be our time to practice, practice, practice. 

Related: 10 Surprising Things We Learned When Our Kids Turned Into Teen Drivers

National Daughters Day

Photo: Kerri Gristina

To My Youngest

We have a ways to go before it is your turn to drive. For now, as I watch you be the goalie on your soccer team, I know you have a keen eye and are very observant. When we take road trips, you are attentive and ask questions about your surroundings and directions. This skill will help you when it is your turn to have a go at the wheel.

For now, you will be my passenger and pay close attention to all of the places that we go.  

National Daughters Day

Photo: Kerri Gristina

To All My Girls

Now that all three of you are growing into mature responsible young women, I still see you as my little girls in these pictures above. I hold on to the moments when after either a trip to pick our Christmas tree or a long drive home from Disney, I can see you sleep soundly in your car seats, then boosters. I know that this was ages ago, but just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye. 

On National Daughters Day today and everyday, I wish you the world and hope that we continue to have many amazing journeys together on the road. Be safe and I love you!