"This is so frustrating! With the different drop-off schedules at the girls' schools and since we live out in the boondocks, there is this awkward gap of time that I cannot figure out what to do with. It's not enough time to come back home and get the oldest, but if I take her with me to drop the others off, what are we supposed to do for 30 minutes?" I lamented.
"Why don't you just take her to Starbucks or something?" he replied.
"Really?!?! You want me to take her to Starbucks every single day??"
"Well, it doesn't look like you have much of a choice, does it? Just look at it as some quality mommy-daughter time."
This was a conversation I had with my husband back in August as we were gearing up for the start of the new school year. I was feeling supremely irked by the schedules I was facing, the fact that my husband travels A LOT for work and, therefore, cannot help often, and the fact that we live so far away from both of the schools our three girls would be attending.
I had racked my brain trying to come up with a solution to this particular timing conundrum. I had calculated minutes and mileage. I had run through different possible scenarios in my mind and kept coming up short on a viable solution.
"Why don't you just take her to Starbucks or something?" he casually suggested, as if it was a very simple solution to a problem I had made far more complicated than was necessary. (Can you imagine?!?) Then he tagged on this little gem, "Just look at it as some quality mommy-daughter time," and, somehow, turned my frustration into something that looked like a positive opportunity. (Salesman!)
And, pretty much, that was that. Problem solved.
So began the routine. Every school morning, I wake all three girls at the same time. We do the typical things - getting dressed, packing lunches, scarfing breakfast, and yelling at each other to "Hurry up!". Then, we're out the door. We drive 30 minutes and drop the youngest two girls off at their school. Afterwards, the oldest daughter and I head to Starbucks for our almost daily coffee dates. We're "regulars" now and we know the morning cashier by name. She knows us and what we usually order - though, once in a while, we shake it up and throw her a curve ball. We grab our drinks, my daughter laughs at how much cream and sugar I add to mine, and, typically, we head back out to the car where we sit and chat for about 20 minutes before the final five minute drive to her school.
During those chats we've discussed politics and social issues. We've talked about friends and relationships. We've laughed and watched videos on our phones. We even have a habit of checking the departure schedule for the nearest airport and pondering where we might go if we were to bypass school and drive directly to the tarmac! Some mornings we talk a lot and others we spend more time quietly people watching and surfing our devices.
That awkward space of time I dreaded and resented has, instead, become something I cherish. (Don't tell my husband he was right! 😜)
My daughter is in a very academically advanced and challenging program and there has been plenty of stress and tears this year - for her and for me. She is feeling immense pressure (in 9th grade) to choose a college; choose a major; choose a lifelong path.
There are days that I am drowning in motherhood -the schedules; the homework; the to-do lists; the hormones that come with mothering three tween/teen girls. I think to myself on occasion, "I can't wait until they're all grown up and out of my hair!"
Then, I sit there with her in the mornings and I am brutally aware that these days won't last much longer. This week she starts driver's ed, so next year she'll be driving the last leg to her school while I supervise from the passenger seat. The year after that, these coffee dates will be gone because she won't need me to drive her at all. The year after that, she'll be applying to colleges and preparing to leave.
I'll get my "wish" and I'll want these moments back.
So, for now, I'll hold on tightly to that awkward space of time and appreciate it for the gift that it gives me - time with my oldest, precious daughter; time to bond and be together; time to laugh and time to chat; time that is slipping through my fingers and will be gone too soon.