What's so sacred about carpools?
     I could answer that literally, I guess. Driving and Not Driving each have their blessings. But it's not the time-saving, the burden-sharing, or the insights that come from being a fly-on-the-steering-wheel that are sacred.
     When I am driving, I am present for that moment of transition in my children's lives between an activity out-in-the-world, and home.

     There was a time, when the children were very little, that I was just mostly exhausted. Not really very conscious, though I think I did OK. But now I have three teenagers, and the oldest is about to go off to college next fall.
     I have been watching her – I'd like to think guiding her – as she's moved through the stages of girlhood, 'tween-hood, and teen-hood, and of course I've known that this point would come. If I'd kept the baby book going, I could have marked the stages and celebrations like I do on my seasonal calendar*: braces '06, first acne cleanser '08, make-up consultation at Macy's '09, driver's license '12 (and I'm sure there are a lot of moments that I don't know about.) Those waypoints on her journey are markers in our memories that describe the curve of her growth; they are the dots in the connect-the-dots coloring book. But I don't really think that raising my children is about the dots.
     It's about the relationships, about what happens when we are neither here nor there, just together in this space between. And that is the sacred part of carpools. I remember explaining why there are stop signs to her when she was in the “why” stage; later on it was being quizzed about who was singing when she tuned the radio to “the Q”; and more recently it has been just listening as she scrolls through her school day out loud. So much of growing up is the becoming, what happens in the transitions.
     And yes, there is a dot, an arrival point looming: for her it is a waypoint, for me it feels like a period. If all goes well, she will leave home next fall, ready to be on her own, and not look back.
     I work every day to help her towards that goal, whether it is insisting on a family dinner, telling her about my meditation practice, or, yes, driving carpool. I can feel the relentless tilt of the earth under her feet as she matures and moves towards the inevitable summer of her life when she won't be with me and Bob any more. What I give her now, and what she gives me, is the stuff that cuts through the busy-ness of the days and grounds us. And so I work to open my heart and my awareness – to be awake – to the beauty of our entwined lives right now.
     There is no assurance that all will be well. Unlike the cycling of the seasons and my certainty that the red-winged blackbirds will return by the end of the month, I cannot be certain of the future of my husband or my children – or myself. But as I sit out here in my shed, which is my small meditative and creative space in our backyard, I know that the woodstove is radiating heat inside the house, the two dogs are asleep beside it, and my family is safe in there, probably melted into the couches on this last unstructured day of February vacation. There's no place to mark that in a baby book. It is not a waypoint on her journey.

    But it is sacred.

* see post of February 17 “The Birthday Calendar”