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Today's Family Magazine

On the road again!

By Stacy Turner

As much as I struggle against the limits of time, space and my own grip on sanity, it’s hard to be in two places at once.  As my kids engage in a variety of activities trying to find their places in the world, it makes for busy afternoons and evenings for harried parents, filled with lots and lots of driving.

Don’t get me wrong, we were busy when the kids were small, juggling trips to the zoo or park with activities like library storytimes, preschool, birthday parties and play dates between naptimes and quiet days at home.  But now that they’re older, their social calendars have positively exploded.  And having two kids means we’re expected to head in opposite directions -- often at the same time.  I find myself wishing that magical time-turner thingy from Hogwarts came in an SUV-sized version to make both trips possible, but so far, no such witchcraft is available, even with Amazon Prime.

It doesn’t help that we live in a rural community with many activities spread across several neighboring communities and zip codes.  We’ve got track practice and art class at various times in one town, while karate practice takes place 30 minutes away, with youth group afterwards, even further flung.  Try to squeeze in the obligatory visits to the dentist, orthodontist, and doctor check-up, as well as any impromptu visits to the movies or friends’ houses, and like Willy Nelson, I’m on the road again, although I don’t look forward to it quite like he did.

And unlike Robert Frost, whose decision when two roads diverged in a yellow wood only affected himself, a busy parent’s decision may lead to teen angst and drama, depending on which path is chosen in an effort to deliver each child to their anticipated destination on any given day of the week.  Squeezing our kids’ activities in between our own work obligations, family time, and an occasional date night require some major logistical planning, and we haven’t even left middle school yet.

Friends with older children tell me that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel.  Although the solution –– setting a teen driver loose on the streets –– makes me happy we’ve still got a few short years before we see that light.  Friends with even older kids just shake their heads and sigh, telling us to enjoy these crazy days and nights spent shuttling kids around, since their empty nest seems far too quiet now.

I try to remember that each experience during this frenzied time is helping my children figure out their places in the world, and the young adults they will become.  As my kids get older, I’m learning to enjoy and appreciate the stage they’re in right now.  While I love the little people they once were, it’s such a joy to witness the young ladies they are becoming.  I’ve learned that every age is a good one for an adventure, and we continue to find our fair share of them together.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the frantic schedules and miss the moments of joy that are hidden within them.  That’s when it’s important to pull over, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture.  Because while being the designated driver may lead to busy nights, extra caffeine, and plenty of stops at the gas station, it also yields silly singing sessions, funny stories, and actual conversations with my kids.  And those are the things that will fuel us through the next steps of the journey.  No matter what the ultimate destination, I’m happy to be traveling this road with them.

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