Jake Frost ponders the unexpected advantages of behind-the-wheel parenting.
We’ve reached that segment of the parenting arc where we seem to spend more time in the car than at home.
Okay, not exactly, but our kids are getting older and joining an ever-multiplying array of activities, which puts Mom and Dad behind the wheel to get our progeny to their various destinations.
I’m kind of a homebody, so I don’t always relish the miles. More than once I’ve found myself gazing wistfully at the calendar trying to find days that are free and unencumbered with games, lessons, and other rendezvous.
There aren’t many.
But while I look forward with relish to those few and far-between days off, I’m doing my best to cultivate an appreciation for the days “on” as well.
Because here’s the thing: I’ve been through enough changes now as the kids have grown through different stages over the years that I can look back and see in each season of the parenting life there were unique things that won’t come again.
Each season had its unique challenges also, for sure (and thankfully they won’t come again either—diapers anyone?). But along with the challenges there were unique opportunities in each of those stages that won’t come again, either.
How great were those little baby laughs, when the little peanuts would wriggle and laugh and laugh and laugh.
And the toddler years when the world was full of wonder. Christmas was magical, the glow of carved pumpkins illuminated by candles was enthralling, and the backyard was a land of enchantment where they could happily spend all day exploring and playing.
Now our world has gotten bigger. The kids’ interests and ambitions are extending beyond the borders of our backyard hedge.
That’s good. That’s as it should be.
And though I wish we could spend more evenings at home and fewer in gymnasiums or auditoriums, there are unique blessings to this time. The kids are trying new things, experiencing new firsts, venturing out into that larger world, and I get to be part of it. I got to see their first points scored and hear the music played at their first recital.
I’ve been the practice audience for student council election speeches. And the one to put an arm around the shoulders when the vote didn’t go our way, and I’ve gotten to give the congratulatory high five when it did.
I’ve sat in the pews and listened to my kids read from the podium at Mass.
It’s a time of spreading wings, and getting to share in that is pretty cool. It’s a gift.
A fleeting gift. Like the other stages and ages, this one too is only for a time. I want to maximize it while it’s here.
Tonight I got a smile and a wave from the basketball court. Then I had a half-hour of one-on-one time with my ball player, talking in the car on the drive home.
It's roots and wings and making memories, for both of us.
Copyright 2022 Jake Frost
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of six books: a Catholic fantasy novel, The Light of Caliburn; Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.