When my kids were little, I often felt stuck in the house with them. With three kids under the age of five, it was too much work to actually go anywhere.
Now, they are all teenagers (except for bonus child #4), and we are never home; all we seem to do is drive. Drive to soccer. Drive to church (choir). Drive to work (until oldest gets his license). Drive to church (middle school youth group). Drive to Scouts. Drive to pottery. Drive to church (high school youth group). Drive to archery. Drive to dance. Drive to church (altar server party). Drive to a meeting (any given week, there is at least one).
Drive, drive, drive.
While driving in DFW traffic is not my favorite thing to do, I have come to see this constant taxiing back and forth as a blessing - one of the biggest blessings I have had in their teenage years.
The car has become our couch, our confessional, our psychiatrist's bench, our counseling office. For whatever given time we have - five minutes, 30 minutes, an hour - all distractions are removed (well, outside the kamikaze cell phone drivers). No tv, no computer, no board games, no Mom-teaching, no cooking dinner, no folding laundry - NO distractions. I am all theirs, and they are mine.
Many of our trips are one-on-one. It is my chance to check in with them outside the hearing of other brothers. It is safe between those plastic and steel walls.
Sometimes it is small things - changing the radio and learning what songs they do or don't like. Commenting on what they see out the window. Random thoughts - car rides tend to bring out the random in my kids. You really should be a fly on the ceiling when we pass a field of llamas (or is it alpacas?) near our neighborhood. I can't explain it - my kids have this weird, funny voice they use, and they talk about the llamas/alpacas in that voice, and it just cracks me up - every time.
Sometimes it is more serious - our time to talk about dating, about life plans, about friends. We do this at home, too; again, there is something so "safe" in than minivan of mine. Our Car Confessionals are different from any other conversations we have.
I was reminded of this today as I got in the van to drive boy #3 to church (surprise!) for a party for those kids celebrating their one year of serving at church. My knee hurt from a bad fall I took last week. I didn't want to drive. Schools were just letting out, and I was trying not to hit a) neighbor kids (Hi, Garrett!) and b) all the cars lining the surrounding streets waiting to pick up kids. I didn't have to go anywhere else until tonight, and I really did not want to be out this afternoon. I was gripey in my heart.
I enjoyed that short car drive with him. Nothing major was said, just happy chatter. And as he left me, slamming the van door, yelling good-bye over his shoulder with a kiss and a wave, it hit me - this window of blessing. For six minutes, I had him all to myself. I was reminded of his happy, sunny nature. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for his sweetness and generous heart.
And it all came flooding in - these precious moments every week I get to spend with each of them. "Our" time - the Young Adult and I get to drive to dance; Boy #2 and I drive to fencing; boy #3 and I have had pottery class; #4 goes out with me a lot still. Each one gets special Mom Drive Time.
I still hate driving - but I love the ride.