A couple years ago, we had to decide between two preschools for our girl. One was about a ten-minute drive, door-to-door, one-way and roughly in the same direction that I travel to get to work. The other, twenty minutes in, of course, the opposite direction.
We liked the second one better, far and away. I’m a big believer in the feeling you get inside when you know something is right. And the second one was right. But, in part because of the distance, we struggled with the decision. Knowing that we’d have baby boy shortly after she started school and that drop offs and pick ups would be all on me, we worried. Would the drive get to me? Would it, as long drives tend to do for people, detract from my happiness or quality of life? Would our kids spend too much time in the car? Would I begin to hate the drive so much and, therefore, regret our decision.
These are the things you have to weigh. Parenthood often involves choosing the lesser of two evils. Sometimes determining which will do less harm rather than which will do the most good. Is she really better off at the better school if I am stressed and she spends a solid hour a day in the car?
In the end, we chose the second preschool. (And that feeling inside? It was soooo right). And over the past year, I have grown to love the drive. On an average day, it gives me the chance to catch up with my daughter. It is quiet, concentrated, focused time in which neither of us is doing anything else. She talks more in the car. She knows she has my full attention. And I have hers. We sing together. We make animal noises to entertain the baby. We talk about her day and her dreams. We plan things to do as the seasons change. Our car time has become special.
And then there are mornings like this one. When the leaves have finally changed from green to brilliant red and gold. I’ve been watching the transition as I’ve driven this drive over the past month. Looking at the same trees each morning and watching as the red started in patches before taking over the whole dome, covering every branch.
This morning, the sky is deep blue. And there is just enough chill in the air to wake us up and make me thankful for the seat warmers in my car. And everything seems calm and bright as the week begins. And even though this week will be full and busy and feel like a whirlwind by the time it’s over, I have these drives through reds and golds and blues. And I have peace.
What I once feared would be my least favorite time of day is now the time I long for. What I once worried would make me stressed, now fills me with calm. My car time is where I regroup with my thoughts and my children in the midst of otherwise busy days. It’s where we take note of the beauty in the everyday of changing seasons and holidays and feelings through the year. And it wouldn’t happen if we weren’t in the car.
What parts of your day did you once dislike that now you don’t want to go without?