I saw a commercial last night that depicted a frazzled dad driving around a van full of lively girls after a soccer practice. The girls were animatedly talking in the vehicle while the father sat in the drive-through waiting for his time at the window. Almost instantly I felt my heart break a little as I reminisced on a time when I was that parent
I remember packing my van so full that sometimes we would even have kids sitting on the floor. There would be laughing and excited voices, I’m pretty sure nobody was listening to anything that was being said. Then a song would come on and the whole car load would join the Jonas Brothers, or some other pop favorite of the day, in singing. Even as I concentrated on the road I knew that that was a memory I wanted to hang on to – to hold their excitement, youth, and carefree ways forever in my heart and mind. I also knew I would miss these days…. and I was right.
I never knew the last drive would be THE LAST DRIVE. There was no warning, no blaring sign, just one day you look around and realize there is nobody in the backseat. One by one the van emptied out. First it was the driver’s license that thinned the herd, then it was boys. Later jobs would interfere with time for friends, and to seal the deal, graduation. Now I drive alone in the van that used to hold a dozen singing girls. I play “my music” but seldom does any singing take place. The drives are no longer an adventure to have fun, but a necessity to get from point A to point B. There are no memories to hold on to. And all I can say is, it sucks!
I never took for granted those car trips, and I’m glad of that. Though sometimes I would be tired, or not feeling so adventuresome, I drove and they sang, and suddenly life wasn’t so bad. It’s these little moments, these impromptu adventures, with family and friends that makes everything worthwhile. It’s not the fancy job title, the name brand clothes, or the showroom house that counts but the interactions you have with people. That’s where the real living is.
I didn’t want to be one of the girls in the backseat, living vicariously through my children; I was happy to be the driver, to be the vehicle that provided opportunity for my kids to create memories with their friends that would maybe form lifelong bonds, or at least warm memories
Like the driver in the commercial, you are focused on the present, wondering when you will have silence, but I’m glad I was wise enough to know I would miss the noise. I am glad I had the foresight to try and hang on to every last second of those outings. Though it was surrounded in complete chaos, it was a chaos that meant something. It didn’t raise my blood pressure, or cause anxiety, it was simply life – a good life.
There’s no toting about a gaggle of singing and laughing kids anymore, instead the old mini-van takes loads of boxes and luggage to college dorms, airports, or totes nothing at all. The years spent laying a foundation of experiences have now been reduced to childhood memories. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt my heart, because it does but I know that you can’t stop time, no matter how much you want to.
I hope that father in the commercial knows that though he is tired, and confused by all that chatter, that what he is doing matters. That in his small sacrifice of peace and quiet he is giving his daughter the gift of a memory.