Dear Passenger Seat,
As car passenger seats go, you’ve been with me for a long time. Like a faithful friend, you have carried my two precious girls and even the family dog. You’ve been a carrier to backpacks, Chick-fil-A paper bags, and sneakers that get routinely dropped on your surface when slipping them on in the vehicle has been faster. You’ve weathered spills from water bottles, drops from fallen tears, and tolerated heat through containers when breakfast on the go moved with us swiftly. You’ve been next to me while I waited in school pick-up lines with snacks that go crunch, only to be left with fallen crumbs and cheese doodle dust.
We’ve been “off we go-ing” for years, you and I, and with two licensed drivers on the horizon, you might get a little lonely.
Soon, Passenger Seat, it will be you and me.
I won’t need to wipe away excess sunscreen that missed getting absorbed into legs that rubbed against you on hot summer days. With two different pairs of leg lengths climbing in, sliding back and forth will stop and you can remain in one fixed positioned like years ago.
At that time, I would glance in my rear view mirror to catch glimpses of my daughters as we sang children’s songs and spoke about the simplest of things. Sometimes cries came and I couldn’t drive to our destination fast enough for a diaper change, feeding, or for soothing. Gunning it to the park or friend’s house for a playdate was sometimes all I could think about so the girls could be released from their sizeable car seats and five-point harness. Now I’d like to press my foot firmly on the brake and stay buckled in.
But Passenger Seat, we have a destination to get our girls to and you’re the one to help deliver them.
I am thankful for savoring the transport process, as nobody tells you that every car ride to drop off your kids at a friend’s, pick ups from rehearsals, football games, trips to the library, office supply stores to buy poster board for a project you wish you hadn’t been told about the night before, might be tiring, but worth every driving minute.
For all the complaining about traffic and extra driving because of opting for schools that were a better fit though farther away, I see the value riding side by side has brought.
You, Passenger Seat, have contributed seconds, minutes, and collective hours resulting in a deposit of real-life day to day time that even a vacation would be hard pressed to offer. There have been opportunities to observe first-hand weary faces from a long day, conflict with a friend, but equally, excitement from friendship connections, a fun field trip or a laugh-out loud comment made by that classmate who always had you "cracking" up.
Often I'd hear a heavy sigh exhaled upon settling into your safe and secure cushion that cradled them, sometimes with dreaded anticipation of having “so much homework” to tackle. There’s been sharing, and a space for my kids to safely speak, feel without judgment, and to be heard—all from your platform.
These passengers have a temporary stay, something I should have explained when you welcomed each one into your safekeeping. You seemed to have understood my worries when my precious cargo graduated from back row status to a view with a dashboard. Are they old enough? Tall enough? Is it too soon for them to be sitting in front?
Just like when it was time to leave the back row, the final exit from the passenger seat will also take its rightful place on the parenting shelf of expired stages.
Perhaps you will find consolation from those who have gone before you—infant car seats, high chairs, cribs and bulky boosters will welcome you. All of which had to release a child held close.
Soon, Passenger Seat, I’ll become the passenger. I’ll need your soft support as I look out the window in disbelief that my firstborn girl is now driving.
Oh Passenger seat, can we turn the car around? Can I shift into reverse so we can drive away together to a place where time stands still? Selfish and foolish request, I know. My heart just doesn't understand how growing up works.
The roads will open and take my girls without me at their side for guidance. I’ll become the passenger in their lives, with a different type of seat, positioning and view.
So thank you, Passenger Seat for being my silent yet stable companion through my parenting journey. When my daughter lands her license, I will celebrate, then gently close the door to a season where we can say goodbye together.