For many people, June means we are that much closer to our anxiously anticipated summer vacation. For others, June means the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new journey. It’s graduation time and whether it’s from kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, these days are filled with nostalgia for what we are leaving behind to unbridled excitement for the next adventure.
I wiped away tears as my daughter said farewell to eighth grade and will make that big leap to high school. I, of course, like all parents, am wondering how it went by so fast. The saying “in a blink of an eye,” is no longer a cliché, it’s my reality. How quickly the conversations change from Sesame Street and Disney to college and career choices. It seemed like only yesterday when I used to agonize over nap times, choking hazards and Baby Einstein.
Now it’s fretting over her lack of sleep from late night studying, driving her from one activity to the next and car conversations that range from friendships and vacations to studying abroad. Someone once told me that when kids are young, the days are long but as they get older, the years become short. Since we are not Avengers and lack the ability to time travel, our only option is to be present, enjoy the moment and embrace the power of now.
I believe a great opportunity to “be in the moment” is a road trip and the perfect time is now. When I was a kid, I used to dread long car rides, believing I would literally die of boredom. I wasn’t doing cartwheels every time my mom told me to look out the window at a tree, a cow or a snow-capped mountain. I was a captive prisoner without today’s cornucopia of electronic devices.
In fact, I think my mom made a secret deal with the tech companies to keep portable devices off the market until I was out of college. What I didn’t realize back then was that those long train rides across the country (my mom had a fear of flying) became the cornerstone of our relationship.
My mom was a great listener and during those distraction-free miles on the interstate I not only realized I could talk to my mom about anything, but that communication is everything.
Perhaps I now look forward to those seemingly endless hours in a car because in some ways it feels that time is moving slower. So even though there are now electronics that make road trips more bearable for my daughter, I still find that the time spent together is a gift. We have driven to Las Vegas, California, Park City and all over Arizona. Sometimes, we just listen to music and other times, I’m allowed to sing to my favorite songs.
If I promise her a fast food stop, I am permitted to belt out a verse or two before being reminded I am still tone deaf. In between episodes of her shows, we talk about everything and anything that is top of mind. There have even been times we have looked out the window at the snow-capped mountains, the red rocks, the windmills and even the cows in the pasture.
For me a road trip is no longer about the destination, it is most definitely about the journey and the conversation along the way.