Coming of age, one red-letter day at a time

Today was a momentous day. My daughter and I woke up early for a Saturday, ate a hasty breakfast and embarked upon an adventure that most of you will relate to with some level of nostalgia. Itís a big day for a teenager. The moment you qualify for your learnerís permit and can legally begin training for the ultimate example of independence: your own driverís license!

As we drove there, nerves began to surface and my daughterís tummy began doing some flips. Her palms were sweating and she was reviewing her manual frantically to hopefully notice some obscure bit of information that might show up on the exam. I, the supportive mom, unwittingly made matters worse by relating the memories of my previous driving experiences with her siblings. I reflected about how her oldest brother aced the permit test, but had to take his driving test twice before passing. Her next oldest brother needed a second try for the permit test but had no trouble at all with the driving test. Her third brother needed multiple tries for both steps in the process, so I encouraged her that she could top all of her brothers by passing the first time on both exams. ďOh great! Way to put the pressure on me! Thanks a lot!Ē she complained. Time to stop reminiscing, mom.

Upon arriving at the testing center, we discovered we were about number six in line which gave her another twenty minutes to fret and sweat. As we waited together, alternating between encouraging words and nervous laughter, I found that I couldnít really remember my own personal experience with the learnerís permit. This became a bit curious to me. We were at the very same location where I had taken my own test so many years before and at that time, not unlike my daughter, I was utterly consumed by the experience, completely caught up in the moment and what it meant to become an independent driver. I couldnít wait. I feared failure. I anticipated the excitement of success and I thought I would never forget the wonder of that moment when the helpful person behind the counter presented me with my permit. And yet here I stood today, next to my daughter, sharing this historic occasion with her, but realizing through the gift of perspective and maturity that this moment is destined to fade.

Today is for her a red-letter day. It stands out in the context of most other days prior to it on her frame of reference as it did for me twenty eight years ago, but now the magnitude of that experience has been replaced many times by new red-letter days which far superseded this one. My personal encounter with God. The day my husband asked me to marry him. Our wedding day. The birth of each of our children. The premature end to one of my pregnancies. The losses of each of my parents. So many other significant days have become woven into my story and integrated into the fabric of my life, shaping and molding me and unexpectedly supplanting those previous moments that I thought were so important when they were occurring.


When she stood up from the computer with that ear-to-ear grin and gave me a thumbs-up, I think I was more excited even than she was! As I signed the consent form and paid the fee, I couldnít help beaming with pride at her success, knowing that it would be a moment she would relive and treasure for many months. At least until the next moment that trumps it, and then the one after that and the one after that. Yes, this day will eventually fade into the shadows of memory, but for now it is doing its work in building her confidence and developing her character. Together with all of those coming moments, all the celebrations and the sorrows, this red-letter day is a harbinger, a sign of what is to come. Itís the promise of a young lady growing quickly into a Proverbs 31 young woman. Yes indeed, this mom is still beaming with red-letter pride!