Summer of ’87

Momservation: “We’d blister in the sun, we couldn’t wait for night to come, to hit that sand and play some rock and roll.” Kid Rock, All Summer Long

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Baby Girl turned 16 this week. Leaves for Spring Break with a friend on Sunday. Goes for her driver’s license when she gets back and has a car waiting.

Man, remember those days? When you finally hit a milestone that set you free.

I do. It was the Summer of ’87. Looking back I wouldn’t say it was the best days of my life like Brian Adams sang in Summer of ‘69—but at the time I sure thought it was.

I had my driver’s license and my brother just gave me his red ’69 VW bug before leaving for the Navy. I had a boom box in the back seat for a stereo and my mixed tapes recorded off the radio. I had a boyfriend with a truck and a boat and we would go water skiing at the Delta with our best friends. I remember listening to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark” on the bow of the boat with my toes in the water, baking in the sun, and feeling a surge of warmth that came from somewhere within because I was absolutely certain life didn’t get any better.

How strange that my daughter is now poised for her own Summer of ’17. That magical time when you’re sixteen, young and ripe for adventure, and finally have a little freedom and change in your pocket to chase it. When restlessness, feelings of invincibility, and raging hormones makes it hard to tell if you’re collecting experiences or regrets. When exciting possibilities dangle before you like low hanging fruit.

If I didn’t have such a fabulous time stitching that 16th year into the fabric of my life, I would be tempted to corral my little wild stallion bucking at the gates, itching to be totally free. You can’t make the type of memories I made with a mother’s stamp of approval.

But I’ve done a good job raising a good kid. I’ll continue to pray for her good health, happiness and safety to protect her from the things she cannot control. I’ll continue to encourage her to make good choices and watch out for regrets that can change the course of your life.

And then I’ll watch her drive off into the sunset, my heart aching that this milestone came so quick, but unwilling to stand in the way of these days we thought would last forever.

Happy Sweet 16 Baby Girl. Have fun and be safe. There will never be another time like it.





  1. Dave says:

    Great perspective! Thanks for the walk down memory lane. My first car was a ’67 bug. Our twins turn 16 on the 11th. Two kids could not be more different. It will be interesting to see the paths they choose.
    Happy birthday to your baby girl!

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks Dave! This nostalgia mixed with wonder and trepidation triggered by our babies turning 16 makes these interesting times! I know my two are taking different paths and it also is certainly keeping things interesting!
      Enjoy the journey and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Susan C. Bonifant says:

    How incredibly refreshing to see a parent embrace this period for its wonder and growth, and not just the things that worry us at 3 a.m.

    I feel the same way about hoping our kids look back on these sweet years the way I was able to.

    Someday, they’ll realize how much you know, and appreciate how much you trusted.

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks Susan! There is certainly still 3 am worrying, but at some point we have to let go of the wheel and let these kids drive their own teenage bus. But as I tell my kids: If I think you’re going to lose control of the bus, I’m going to grab the wheel. Here’s to hands free driving for us parents!
      Enjoy the journey and thanks for stopping by!

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