Driving away

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on August 21, 2020

Everyone has experienced that moment as a parent. 

It’s the moment when we drop off our child at school, or with a friend, and look in the rearview mirror. We are so excited to have a few minutes alone that we hope our enthusiasm isn’t too obvious and that we don’t screech our tires as we drive away.

It’s the moment when we almost feel guilty for the bliss we experience by doing exactly what we want to do: listen to our music, eat our food of choice, or visit a restaurant with a friend. 

It’s the ease of being able to clean without help, shop without a pint-sized sidekick, and maybe even take a bath without getting splashed.

When they drive away

But there is another side of this moment. 

It occurs when our children get out of the car and we watch them all the way to the door. Through the rearview mirror, we keep our eye steadily on the building as we drive away. 

We feel the lump in our throat and the tears threatening to fall. We fight against the desire to throw the car into reverse or make a quick U-turn and apologize for the terrible mistake of leaving our child behind. Our instinct tells us to grab our mini-me, shove them in the car, and sigh with relief: “That was close! I almost let you go for the whole day!”

Driving away—there is just something about it that elicits a wide range of emotions. 

As our children grow, they begin driving away from us. They get their driver’s license and they are off. We no longer take them to school on their first day—they drive themselves. We don’t take them to their friend’s house—they drive themselves. We don’t take them to practice—they drive themselves. 

But there is a positive in all of this: we don’t have to run back to the grocery store for the one thing we forgot. We can send them to get it! Just don’t expect them to bring it right back. Remember, they have the car and our credit cards! In my experience, it usually means a trip to Whataburger or Chick-fil-A for a “snack”. 

Our epilogue begins

I remember the first time both of my boys drove away. I was excited for them, and simultaneously relieved to get their text saying: “I made it.” Of course, I already knew they made it because I tracked them on my phone the whole way. 

Again—the whole driving away thing. 

We either leave part of our heart behind or part of our heart leaves us. The thing is, up until our children graduate from high school, we know that they will be back. If not when we go to sleep, then in the near future, their heads will be on their pillow and our nests will again be full.

Fast forward a few more years, we are on a college campus. We have moved everything that matters into a small room surrounded by one thousand other small rooms. They are rooms filled with people we have never met, coming from families we will never know. 

We do everything we can to make it feel like “home.” And just like that, the book as we have always known it, ends. We begin to write the epilogue as the mom in the background. Everything in our book becomes their prologue. It is time for their own book to begin. 

Now, we just have to drive away

One less head on our pillow

Driving away from dropping my child off at college was the hardest “drive away” I have made by far. 

I watched my son walk toward his dorm and into his new life. The world called him an adult at eighteen (Whose terrible idea was that anyway?). But this momma, I saw a little boy and ten thousand memories flooded my mind. I drove away with tears flowing freely. I fervently prayed that I had taught enough, loved enough, prayed enough, poured into him enough . . .

What makes this drive away so much harder than all the others? We are not going back to pick them up. At the end of the day, there will be one less head on our pillow. There will be one less face at our dinner table. 

It’s like the first day of kindergarten, eighteen years later. Except we don’t get to pick them up at the end of the day. 

We have to wait for them to call and tell us all about their new friends and classes. When the phone rings, and we see their name, our world stops for a minute. Everything pauses so we can become a part of their story for as long as they will allow us to be there. When they come home to visit, our nest is full again. 

But it is never the same after they have tasted freedom and independence. 

The ultimate question

As a bystander, our job is to pray like we have never prayed before. 

As our children experience all the world has to offer, outside the bubble of their childhood home and all of its rules, we will see what they are made of. 

Will they find a church? Will they study like they did at home? Will they make the kind of friends that bring out the best in them? Will they remember all that we taught them? 

It is their turn to become all that God has created them to be. Will they allow him to be part of the process? What will happen to their faith when we are not there? It is no longer about information. They have what they need to be discerning in a foolish world. 

The ultimate question is this: will they choose to apply it and truly live wisely

A seat in our car

Their actions and decisions are something that we cannot control from the safety of our homes. 

We just have to watch it unfold. It is the reason our job is to pray—the only one who can guide them in the way that they should go is the One who has written all of our stories from beginning to end. 

Watching our children decide who they will become is a process for everyone. Some days are incredible, while others leave us wondering what happened to the child we raised. I wish I could tell you that the process is easy. 

I am in the thick of it with both of my “adult” sons. And this verse keeps me going on the days that I want to make that U-turn to pick them up and bring their “adultselves” back home: “For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12). 

In other words, this verse tells me: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know I have believed my God, and I am completely and totally confident that he—not me—is able to take care of, in every way (until that day he returns or calls me home) what has been entrusted to me: Clay, Chase, and Corinne.

As our children drive away (both literally and figuratively), hold on tight and try to enjoy the ride. Sometimes they will allow us to join them. Sometimes we will just have to wait and hear about the trip. 

Always will we remember that they were never really ours in the first place. God just allowed them to have a seat in our “car.” 

And for that, we will be thankful. 


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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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