I’ve always looked at those stick-figure-family bumper stickers and wondered how I’d represent myself. Crazy hair lady? Not since I cut it, mercifully. The closest I can get is briefcase lady/shopaholic lady/ballerina lady (but she has to be falling slightly like she doesn’t know what she’s doing). I’m not sure they make those, but you never know.
So I asked the Maiden for her input. What was Mommy’s “thing,” her all-consuming hobby?
Her: “Driving me to school.”
Yeah, and to ballet, and tap, and soccer. And, more recently, art class. And Nutcracker practices, and gymnastics once Nutcracker and soccer are done, and potentially theater if she gets a part in one of the plays I was dumb enough to let her audition for.
Okay, whatever. I swore I wouldn’t become one of those moms but I have a sneaking suspicion I might sort of be one of those moms.
I’m married to my car. And it’s not even a cool one.
Favorite hobby or not, I drive. And driveanddriveanddrive and then drive some more, especially on those red-letter days when the Maiden randomly forgets to bring her lunch/tote bag/whatever else I handed her before leaving while giving specific directions on how not to put it down.
I love those days.
But on the good days, driving isn’t so bad. Aside from the traffic and the idiots on the road and the price of gas and the fact that these three combine together to promote the development of Mommy’s potty mouth, it’s one of the best parts of the day.
First, there’s the post drop-off euphoria. I love the Maiden and all, but there’s nothing like that promise of a kid-free day, with all its sugar-plum dreams of shopping and massages and Starbucks and lunch with a friend. That is, before the grim realization of ohhhh right, I have to, like, work or the house is such a disaster it practically qualifies for FEMA (or in my case, both) sets in.
But even after that painful reality check, I can still enjoy the ride back home. At least I don’t have to listen to the Maiden’s CDs. That makes up for a whole lot of missed shopping.
Also, Starbucks has drive-throughs.
But that euphoria has nothing on what happens when the Maiden is still in the car with me–whether going or coming. Because chauffeur duty is the one time of day when we’re guaranteed one on one time: no toys, dishes, work beckoning from the laptop, books, fridge full of snacks, or phone surfing can get in between us.
Essentially, we’re both shoved into cramped quarters, tied to our seats, and forced to interact. Primitive, but it works. We’re even nicer to each other because we know we’re stuck in each other’s company for another 20 minutes–so we might as well be civil.
And the things that go on! That awkward icebreaker Did anything cool happen today? gradually got dropped in favor of letting car time develop into an open forum. The Maiden brings up things that are bothering her, and vice versa. We talk about important stuff and unimportant stuff and schedule stuff and learning stuff and future stuff and crazy stuff and get answers to hard questions like “What does anxiety mean?”
We sometimes degenerate into silly games, like the Pontius Pilate alliteration one. Objective: create an alliterative sentence using Pontius Pilate as the subject. Did you know that Pontius Pilate prefers to pirouette in pink pants? Also, you’d be amazed at how much potty humor language starts with p. Which makes it all the more funny, although not exactly conducive to defensive driving.
I’m not a playing person and I’m not a crafting person, so the typical tea-party games feel disconnected for both of us. Plus, they become hotbeds of dissent. Seriously, Polly Pocket cannot wear those shoes with that dress. End of discussion.
But I am a talking person, and so is the Maiden. And without any real physical distractions in the car, we can have little gems of bonding throughout the week, even if it’s just on the ten-minute ride between school and tap class. That’s why, as vexing as the chauffeur duty can be, I glory in the back-and-forth.