Parenting seems to be the epitome of the old saying, “The only constant in life is change.” Motherhood has yet again discreetly slipped into a new phase for me. It often seems to happen like that, doesn’t it? Change can be so subtle. You blink, look around, and realize that your world looks slightly different.
What seems like just a few years ago, we registered our oldest for ballet dance class. She was about four at the time. One dance class a week. It was a big deal. It was our first extracurricular activity. We had to be ready for Wednesday nights and ensure work, dinner, and driving schedules were confirmed between my husband and me. For that single Wednesday night class. It was a big change for our little growing family to have Wednesday nights blocked out every single week.
Then that one ballet dance class got a tap class added in. The next year came swimming lessons. Then Girl Scouts. Piano lessons. Tumbling. And wouldn’t you know it, over the years that those activities were added in for our daughter, our son was also ready to start t-ball. The cycle of new experiences continued among three kids.
Before we knew it, we went from having just one night a week blocked out on the calendar to searching to try and find a free one.
We knew that was going to eventually happen, of course. We wanted our kids to get involved and try activities to find things they loved doing. But with all those practices, games, competitions, concerts, etc., comes driving. A LOT of driving. Mostly for our daughter, the oldest, who is now fully committed to a sport that she adores, while our boys are still finding their way, going from trying soccer to baseball to basketball and a handful of things in between. Most evenings, my husband and I divide and conquer driving our daughter around and caring for our younger boys.
A fun fact about me is that I absolutely loathe driving. I would hang up my keys and never drive again if I could. But alas, having a personal chauffeur or permanent Uber isn’t an option for this suburban mom of three, and I find myself climbing into the driver’s seat of my beloved mini-van day after day. I became a mom taxi.
Our daughter just turned thirteen. She’s in junior high and in a new phase herself. I could write an entire post about that, but that’s a story for a different day. The point is that she’s navigating a lot of new situations. New friends, new responsibilities, new changes. When she gets home from school, I don’t get a lot out of her.
“How was your day?”
(I’m sure most parents can chime in on the typical teen response.)
“What did you do today?”
(Say it with me, moms. You know what’s coming.)
I know she’s physically, mentally, and likely emotionally tired. She needs a break and some downtime. I get it. And after trying several different avenues to get her to open up, I’ve figured out how to best connect with her about her day.
The car ride.
Yes, my dread of driving comes with an unexpected perk. When I get her in the car, I get a completely different kid. I politely request that she put her phone away, and she complies (perhaps because she knows that yours truly happens to pay the bill for said phone, but that’s beside the point). She completely opens up. She talks about her day, her friends, and her feelings. I get an inside look into her life for around twenty to thirty minutes each way, without feeling like I’m forcing the conversation.
I’m not sure why the conversation flows so freely in the car. What is it about driving around together that makes it a safe place to share? Is it due to there being fewer distractions? Less pressure knowing the conversation will only last 20-30 minutes? Is it because we have each other’s undivided attention? Is it less threatening with fun music in the background? I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I will take it.
Being a mom taxi has now become my favorite time of the day. I’m cherishing it because I know that she will be able to drive independently in a few short years, and my opportunities to chat with her freely in the car will lessen. I’ll blink and look around and realize that my world looks a little different yet again. But for now, I’ll happily grab my keys and be ready to listen in the driver’s seat of their mom taxi.