The first time I drove a car by myself, fresh new license tucked in my wallet and 16-year-old hands carefully placed at 10 and 2, I couldn’t stop laughing. I was driving through our neighborhood, grinning and laughing like an idiot, feeling the freedom course through my veins. I could go anywhere.
I think I went to the drugstore for poster board for a school project or something equally mundane, but I felt that surely someone would stop me, a mere child, from gallivanting around town unsupervised.
Twenty-five years later, the bloom is officially off the rose. I mean, I’m grateful for a working vehicle, but when I slide behind the wheel, I feel a bit trapped. Some days I spend more hours driving my kids around town than sleeping, and I’m surprised I haven’t gouged tracks in the stretch of highway near our house. Back and forth, up and down, all day, every day. Seatbelts on, seatbelts off, cupholders always at full capacity with water bottles and coffee cups. I’m a hostage in my own minivan.
They don’t tell you when you have kids how you’ll become a professional baby driver. I guess not professional because momma don’t get paid jack, but during the middle school and early high school years, when your kids hit peak activity level but before they get their licenses, you’ll spend roughly one billion hours on the road.
Most weeks I have to make a flow chart to figure out how to get everyone where they need to go, coordinate with other carpool parents, and account for any overlap. There are three of them, one of me, and too many activities to count. When they were little I said we’d only do one activity per kid, but the activities must be mating in a closet somewhere and multiplying like bunnies. Bunnies with shin guards and Speedos. And in addition to the things we’ve committed to they also come at you with superfluous things like friendships. Dang it, why did we decide they needed socialization?
You’ll find yourself using your kid as a mediator to negotiate with other kids’ parents. “Text Christa that I can take you guys but see if her mom can pick you guys up.” You shove the kids in the van at 6am on a Saturday for a sportsball tournament two hours away, and you’re still shuttling at 11pm picking them up from a party at so-and-so’s house with the finished basement and heated pool. When this is all over you should apply to drive for Uber, because it’s probably better hours.
You start agreeing to study groups and parties based on where the other kids live. “What neighborhood is she in? Seriously? That’s across town. Your other friend lives down the street. Go study with her. I realize that girl deals drugs and worships Satan, but she’s in our neighborhood so she’s such a convenient friend.” KEEP READING