I remember being a kid and getting into the van to go anywhere – a store, a restaurant, on vacation, wherever. Most of the time, I was reading a book or listening to music on my tape player, with the cool 90’s headphones. I did not spend much time talking to my mom or dad back then in the car. I just wanted to get out, be anywhere but in the car with them. I could not wait to be 16, get my license and drive away.
I remember turning 16, getting my license and asking my parents if I could go to the store (just for milk or a movie). They told me I could go but I had to take my sister and/or my brother with me, every single time. They sat in the back seat, seat belts buckled, and told me where to go. Was I their chauffeur? I really just wanted to be by myself.
I remember being in the car with Greg (my husband) and throughout the years I have been the driver. He is not good at directions and I know which way is north. He is often unsure of where we are going and I know where someone lives after one trip. Over the past 14 years he has been my companion on many trips to the store and on numerous driving vacations. We talk sometimes, but most of the time is spent in silence listening to the radio – country preferred. He will often change the station when I am pumping gas or at a red light and I usually don’t notice until we are miles away. I always get mad and he just laughs when I finally figure it out. However, I would prefer to be the driver in the car, alone with the radio voice.
I remember driving the first time with Ashleigh in the car. I was so careful – stopping completely at stop signs, proceeding cautiously through intersections, driving the speed limit or below. She never really cried while in the car. She usually would fall asleep or sit silently and play with her toys. She was the best! This was definitely a change for me – having someone else in the car and not being uncomfortable with it.
I remember her becoming my car buddy around the time she was 1 and was able to face forward for the first time. We drove to work/school/daycare everyday for 3 years (really 6 years, but we will add the other 3 in later). We sang songs, watched movies (well, she watched and I knew every word because she would watch them 80 times, over and over), talked about her day at “school” or what was for dinner or what we were going to do tonight/tomorrow/over the weekend. I loved spending that time with her. It all came to an end when she turned 6 and began 1st grade at her “new” school. She was missed, not only by her sister, but me too. I loved that time and would never take it back, but I still had Mollie in the car to keep me company.
I remember the first year Mollie joined Ashleigh and myself on the way to work/school/daycare. The days were always hectic. Getting 2 kids up, dressed and out the door was not easy but I was able to relax on that car ride and talk/laugh/sing. Or so I thought. Mollie was not a happy camper in the car with Ashleigh and I. She did not like being in the car at all. She cried. She screamed. She yelled. She threw toys and pacifiers. Nothing soothed her. I began to think back to the times I was alone in the car and could have some peace and quiet. I wanted that back.
I remember the days after we changed Mollie’s car seat around to face forward. Life was much better. She enjoyed looking out the window, watching movies, listening to music and eventually joining in the conversations about school/daycare. Things were getting better in the car and I began to enjoy my time with my car buddy(s) again. Singing Kids Bop is just not the same when you do it alone.
I remember looking through the rear view mirror yesterday at the powdered faced little girl who was laughing at Handy Manny and his tools. I longed for Ashleigh to still be little and in the car with me. I also began to dread the day when Mollie goes into 1st grade and leaves me alone in my car again with just the radio voice and the memories of two little girls who were a special part of my mornings.