I drive a lot. Carpools, pick-ups, drop-offs, ballet, art classes, high school, middle school, elementary school, aikido, library.
And that does not count anything extra – field trips, special events, science fair presentations, birthday parties, performances, dress rehearsals and mandatory parent meetings (x3!)
Now I have two things to say about all this. Actually three, but one of them is not printable…
First, I have to drive; there is no getting around that. And much of it is in heavy daily traffic, so I figured out how to stop fighting it (mostly) and settle into the Zen of Driving. When I arrive after the Zen trip, I am calm and ready for the adventure that is ahead. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way…
There is no Zen of Driving when the kids are arguing and grumpy, either first thing in the morning or after a long day at school. I am completely serious when I tell you that I actually went into the Honda dealer a few weeks ago and asked if they could install a bullet proof, sound proof shield between my front seat and the back seats of my minivan.
You know, like the ones they have in taxis. I am even willing to have a little slot so the kids can slip me some money to pay for the gas. Or maybe even a tip, hmmm…
Anyhow, I put my foot down when it comes to excessive arguing and will pull over to get everyone quiet before I start again. Sometimes when I pull over to the side of the road, I can elicit a cease and desist to all the fighting by using my “crabby Mommy powers.”
Or sometimes I pull over and sit in complete and stony silence until everyone settles down. It all works, just gotta know which one for which situation. When it’s only my own children in the car, it’s fine and everyone shapes up and when we get back on the road, no one is worse for the stop.
But every once in a while when I am driving other children in the car, the whole group becomes so wild, loud and over the top that it actually become dangerous for me to drive under those conditions. I have to pull over to calm and quiet them down a bit using one or two of my special skills.
This of course is completely embarrassing for my kids and the other children, too. But it is effective and driving off after an awkward “pull-over” results in a completely silent ride the rest of the way home. They are all a little scared of me, and I like it that way.
I have been at this for a while and when I pull up to the bus stop for the pick up and everyone piles in, to quote Rick Harrison, “You never know what is going to come through that door!” And that leads me to the second thing I have to say about driving the carpool…
Sometimes, it is exquisite.
A teenager might climb into the front seat and tell me all about her day, her worries, her classes, her weekend plans, her uncertainty, her fears, her hopes and dreams. It happens.
Sometimes we all share a long standing joke that only comes up in the routine of the carpool. And one day comes when we are roaring hilariously over a funny scene that has unfolded over the course of time, maybe weeks, maybe years.
And when I am driving every time on the way to pick-up or after drop-off all by myself with no one else in the car, no music, no cell phone…ah, that is when my creative mind can solve problems, work out details, or just relax.
In the carpool we sing, debate, explore ideas, exchange mundane this and that, tell stories, share sadness, laugh and occasionally we all sit in natural silence each in our own private reverie. It is precious time and I know it will be over some day.
So this is a job that takes up a lot of my time. And honestly, plenty of time I don’t really love it. But you know what, it is also a gift. And when I am willing to be present for it, magic happens in the carpool.
I know you have something in your life that is difficult, annoying, challenging, frustrating and will not go away. But consider that it can also be a gift and see what small pleasures you can receive from it today.