Dear Passenger Seat,
As car passenger seats go, you’ve been alongside me for a long time. Like a faithful friend, you have carried my precious two beings and even the family dog. You’ve been a holder to backpacks, Chick-fil-A paper bags, and sneakers that get routinely dropped before getting in. You’ve weathered spills from water bottles, drops from fallen tears, and tolerated heat through containers when hot breakfast moved with us on the go. 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 by famished teens.
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 just you and me.
You’ll probably look cleaner but in a good way. I won’t need to wipe away excess sunscreen marks that did not get fully absorbed into the legs that dangled against your side. With two different heights moving in and out, sliding back and forth will end and you can stay positioned in one place like years ago.
At that time, I would glance back in my rearview 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 get to our destination soon enough for a diaper change, feeding or for soothing. Arriving at that park or friend’s house for a playdate was sometimes all I could think about so the girls could be unstrapped from their sizeable seats. Now, I’d like to press my foot firmly on the brake and stay in the car.
But Passenger Seat, we have a destination to get our girls to, and you’re the one to help deliver them.
I am glad I at least tried to savor 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 driving that had to be done 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 time that even a vacation would be hard pressed to offer. There has been the daily opportunity to observe first-hand, faces that wore weariness from a long day at school, conflict with a friend, but equally, excitement from friendship connections, a fun field trip or a laugh-out loud comment made by that funny classmate.
Often I hear a heavy sigh exhaled upon settling into your safe and secure platform that cradles them with the 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 chair.
These passengers have a temporary stay, something I should have explained when you welcomed each girl 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 to be sitting in front?
Just like when it was time to leave that back row, the passenger seat departure 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 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 cushioned 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, I know. My heart just doesn’t understand how growing up works.
The roads will open and take my daughters without me at their side for guidance. Hopefully, I’ll become the passenger in their lives in a new way, with a different type of seat and view.
So thank you, Passenger Seat, for being my silent yet stable companion through this journey. When my daughter lands that license, I will celebrate, then gently close the door to a season where we can say goodbye together.