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With two kids in middle school and one in high school, long gone are the days of sleeping in until 8 since elementary school didn’t start until 9 am.
Now, our mornings consist of a 6 am wake-up call—5:30 am if my daughter needs help doing her hair for picture day, a special event, or just because she feels like it.
After scraping breakfast together, getting in a quick workout, and making sure my kids are alive and have what they need in order to face the day, we pile in the car by 7 to make the 7:30 am bell. Then I take a quick shower, get in 6 hours of work, and get back in my car to do the same thing around 2 pm.
Traffic is never light and drop off and pick up take almost an hour despite the fact we live 10 miles from the school.
Yes, it cuts into my day, and yes, my kids could take the bus, but dropping them off and picking them up from school is about so much more than convenience to us as a family.
First, my teens want me to bring them to school; that speak volumes to me. They are more comfortable with me than being on the bus, and because I work from home, I can do this for them, and I’m more than happy to.
I can't get this time back with my children. It won't be long and they will either be driving themselves to school, or off to college and my mornings will be spent sans kids. I'm not really looking forward to that stage in my life, even if it means I’ll feel less rushed and get more sleep. The fact they want me included this much in their morning isn't something I'm going to pass up.
Sure, I get a bit frustrated if we are stuck in traffic a little too long, especially if I have a deadline to meet, but all it takes is one look at my kids with their morning-tousled hair, sleepy eyes and backpacks at their sweet little feet to remind me to slow down and take in this time with them.
Everything else can wait, and the biggest regrets we have in life are the times we didn’t take advantage of the “here” and “now.”
The talks we have had have been irreplaceable, and there's a lot I would have missed out on had I made them take the bus.
Like the time we had a meaningful conversation about dating and the language you use when you want to be intimate with someone.
We’ve discussed dance outfits made plans for the weekends, and watched leaves change just a little bit everyday while driving to and from school.
We’ve seen new homes being built, double rainbows and hundreds of snowmen.
One morning my youngest started imitating me and my stressed-out ways on any given day before school. We all laughed so hard, and here it was, 7:15 in the morning and we all had a great bonding start to our day that set the tone for the rest of it.
When I pick them up, we often swing by our favorite fast food place and get ice cream cones or and a few orders of fries, sit in the parking lot and just be. There is nothing like slowing down in the middle of the day and if I wasn't going out to pick them up, we'd never do this. It feels special and I know they all look forward to it.
I get an extra two hours with my kids 5 days a week and no amount of extra work or cleaning I could get done compares to our mornings and afternoons.
Because when you are in the car with your family, whether it's in dead silence, listening to a morning radio show together, or having a conversation, no matter how small, those are the moments we will take with us.
My kids won't remember how clean the house was, and if they took the bus every day would blend into the next, but extra time with their mom and their siblings will be one of the things they remember when they look back at their high school years.
I'm more than happy to oblige and to take the opportunity to get them to talk to me about their life, even if I fail, and to share greasy fries with them every once in a while in the middle of the parking lot on a random Wednesday. In fact, I’d have it no other way.
Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine and is a full-time freelance writer. She's writes about all things parenting, food, and fashion.