Mazda 5

These Moments Count, Too

Mazda 5My son is always asking to drive these crazy routes to wherever we’re going.

Take a left here Mama! (but we need to go right)

I want to go down Three Chopt Rd! (that’s nowhere near the store)

Let’s find out where Short Pump Rd goes! (his nickname for Pump Rd)

Sometimes I indulge him, but most of the time I remind him how much longer it would take to get where we are going. This is the kid who would race a baby across a parking lot and celebrate winning. I figure the speedy way is always going to be his favorite. But he never accepts my explanation with joy.

Finally, I ask: Why do you always want to take the long way?

E: I like being with you, Mama. It’s relaxing being in the car with you.

Once the welling of tears and swelling of my heart stopped, I think about our car rides. How we talk about our days and roll down our windows while singing off-key to the radio (well, just me — that kid has a beautiful voice). How I’ve begun introduced him to my favorite pop songs of the 80s and 90s and my parents’ favorite pop songs of the 60s and 70s. How much laughter we have and how many tears I’ve dried while steering one-handed.

And I wonder how I could have mistaken getting home for getting a few more minutes of Jack and Diane. I remember driving around my hometown and just following roads to their end because I never had. I knew which streets had crazy bumps and which ones had pretty trees and which ones were the best for feeling like you were the only one in the world.

I remember even younger than that singing the Star Spangled Banner to myself in the back of my parents’ car. Seeing my first harvest moon from my window. Leaning my head against the cool glass and watching the world — waving to strangers and making faces with my sister and getting truckers to honk their horns.

So if you see a car driving in circles in your neighborhood, know that we’re just enjoying each other’s company for a little bit longer. Maybe our song hasn’t quite ended yet. Or a road name caught our eye. Or we are debating whether the sky would be better off purple. Or maybe we are both quietly wondering whether life is these moments in the car or begins when we arrive at our destination.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

11 thoughts to “These Moments Count, Too”

  1. Amen. We do this too, we “Go back to that song” and “now sing with me Mom!”

    we take one more spin around our development so we can talk or hear the rest of that story that will be lost if we pull into the garage and chores and “getting into the house” commence.

    I loved reading this and knowing you are somewhere having these moments too.

  2. We do out of the way driving too. Sometimes I feel guilty about wasting gas and contributing to environmental woes. My daughter is only three, but she talks more about things that are bothering her when we are in the car (the mean kid at school, how she wanted to save underdog, but couldn’t, why she’s not allowed to pick other people’s flowers). Sometimes I drive just to get more of that conversation. Sometimes we drive to see cows or Christmas lights or to see if there are any dogs at the dog park.

    Love this post!

  3. I love being in the car. I think it’s because all of my family is together, I can see and hear everyone, and we don’t have any responsibilities at that moment.
    Such a nice post.

  4. This made me think of a game my mother would play called “Get Lost”. She would let us pick the direction to turn at intersections until we (kids) didn’t know where we were anymore. Then we would try to find our way back to someplace we recognized. Gas prices were much cheaper back then.

  5. My heart. We sometimes drive, and we sometimes sit in the driveway or a parking lot and “finish this song” and talk just a little longer than necessary. Cars are awesome like that.

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