For the sake of my family, I drive. I didn’t used to drive so much. I walked. I rode my bike. I even had my motorcycle license. But now, I drive. My job requires it of me. It’s one of the essential skill sets for being a mom in America in the 21st-century. I didn’t expect this. This wasn’t part of my dreams for the future when I thought of having a family. I laughed at soccer moms and their minivans. “No way,” I thought, “No way will I be one of those poor saps shuttling their children from appointment to appointment all day long. But then I had kids: healthy, inquisitive, active kids. And at the bare minimum, the state of California requires my children to attend school from TK on. TK? Yes, that’s an actual thing now. Transitional Kindergarten they call it: an extra grade before kindergarten so that all kids will get one year of publicly subsidized preschool. Okey Dokey.
But back to my point: I drive. Because I chose not to homeschool my kids. So, by law, they have somewhere to be on Monday mornings. There is no bus service in our area to the school we chose for our children, so I drive.
Also, another important factor is the season. It’s a bitter cold winter here. Which means it is cold and flu season. Which then translates into afterschool appointments scheduled for ear infections, and midnight runs to the drugstore for cough syrup. In order to take care of my children, I must drive.
And also in order to take care of my husband too. We firmly believe in buying only used cars. Ever. They are the most reliable. But on the flip side, that means that our cars get older sooner. And from time to time, my husbands car needs a fix at the mechanics, and he needs a ride home. So I pack up the kids and we take a family trip to pick up Daddy. The car shuffle is a real thing in these young family years. We are a team. And, to be my husband’s teammate, I drive.
There is something my former self feels when I look at how much I shuttle around town. She dies a little bit inside each time. Oh no! I’ve become a soccer mom, minus the soccer. But now that I’m here, now that I’ve arrived at nearly having the status of operating a commercial rig, I look around, and I’m surprised at how… it’s not a very big deal anymore. I guess I’ve gotten used to it, or gotten good at it, or seen the value in it: having time on the road to think, or be with my children, or listen to music. It’s not so bad.
And I found that I’ve become a part of a tribe: the “Hauling Mama’s.” It’s totally a thing. We have an understanding among each other, a deep regard for the jobs that we each have with our own flock of children.
A hundred years ago, that is, 100 BC (read: Before Children) I rode a motorcycle. OK, OK, it was an electric scooter. But boy did it go fast! I learned that there was a wave, or more like a two finger salute right off the handle bar from one motorcyclist passing another on the road. Like a secret handshake for being in the cool kids club. Electric scooters might be the nerds of the motorcycle world, but I still got the wave. Dutifully, I extended my two fingers in response. Like it was no big deal. But inside my black riding boots, I was totally wiggling my toes in excitement. Gosh I loved it. I would suggest we mommy’s hauling children also should have a salute to each other. But we’re all too busy: arbitrating between sibling fights, soothing baby cries with only a back-turned hand, and doing the entirety of parenting through a rear view mirror. There has got to be a medal for this nutty business.
We do it wherever we are, driving on whatever roads get us to where our children need to be. My good friend just sent me a picture of her kids walking through 5 foot snowdrifts to get to the door at preschool. What kind of world is this people?!
So if you see a Mom in her car, half looking at the road and half looking into the backseats, give her the two finger salute off your steering wheel. For a moment she will feel as cool as a motorcyclist, and not so alone in her solitary shuttle crammed with kids and driving to all of the necessary places of raising a young family in modern America. Here’s to you, Mama. Here’s to me. Now, let’s ride.