The Drive Time

By Guest Blogger Ashley McNeill

As moms, we spent a lot of time in the car. And I mean A LOT. To and from school. To and from after school activities. To and from weekend activities. To and from friends’ houses. The miles and minutes add up. Plus when you’re a working mom, you can include “to and from work” to your resume as well.

My commute to work is a mere 12 minutes. I recognize there are many parents whose commute to work is an hour, and sometimes more. That is not me.  While my work commute is short, I make the most of it. Typically I spend those 12 minutes talking to my mother.  Yes, most mornings, I share uninterrupted time talking to my mother.  This is usually when my kids are not in the car with me.

I also make the most of the time I spend in the car with my children. As a single mom, who works full time, I happen to spend A LOT of time in the car with my kids. On many days, this is the only time I have to get quality one-on-one conversations with both of them, or each one individually. I actually look forward to this drive time. I cherish it. It’s time away from work and household demands. It’s uninterrupted time with my kids.

Recently, another mom shared with me that she had a baby-sitter who drives her children to and from all activities.  The mom even disclosed that she intentionally chooses working hours for the sitter so that she (the mom) could avoid driving her kids at all.

I was completely taken back that someone would say this, let alone be OK with this.

Now, before you start thinking that all I did was “judge” this parent, I DO recognize that other parents work different hours than me, and many parents have jobs that require them to, unfortunately, miss many of their children’s activities.  I also recognize, that despite being a single working mom, I am very fortunate to have all the time that I do with my children.

However, after I heard this mom’s comment, it got me thinking about how much I really like being in the car with my own children.  And, the more I thought about it, the more I realize how much I like having other children in the car with us too!  I like to listen to the conversations.  I enjoy hearing how kids interact in different conversations. I love to hear their stories from school.

Of course our car rides are not without the stress. Do not think I’ve never have had the screaming child in the back seat. Or the one that screamed SO much that I had to pull the car over to check on the kid, and then cried myself when I realized they were just throwing a fit and I was too tired to know the difference!  I’ve also had fighting kids and sick kids.  And, I admit I’ve wanted to get out of the car on the side of the highway, and not get back in!

Yet, when I really think about, I’ve come to realize that I like being in the car with my kids.  We tell stories, we plan trips, we decide on our meals, we talk about good things, the game, the activity, sad things, challenges, and things we want to do or not do.  We even sing songs together (although they do not like when I try to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, in rounds….they quit on me!).

On longer road trips, when blessed with the company of friends or family who can share the driving, I have used my time in the car to read books aloud.  We eat and have snacks.  We play games and we laugh.  We’ve been known to make animals out of tin foil. Yes, on long trips, we have even found ways to watch movies (despite my best efforts to avoid doing so).

But it’s the shorter drives around town, and in between school, church and activities, when I really learn about my kids.  Our conversations are spontaneous and not forced. I see them growing and changing. All while in this wonderful car of mine, I have them.  All to myself!

Somehow, these days are going faster and I know they will not stay in my car forever. Soon they will be driving themselves and others. But for now, I want them to remember the talks, the laughs, the answers and the questions.  Maybe they will forget the yelling and the crying.  Maybe they’ll remember the good times. Maybe they’ll remember their mom spending all this time in the car with them, and maybe it will make them smile.

That is my hope.

However, for now, I am off to gas up and grab snacks. I am driving the kids today. Gotta go…

So how about you? Do you enjoy the drive time with your kids as much as I do? What are some things you and your kids do during all your drive time?

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