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Over the years, I have complained about the car line as much as the next mom. It seems that the days that you are in the biggest hurry are the days when the person in front of you is the slowest. Really! And how many times have you been behind someone who will only let their child out when they are right beside the front door to the school? Infuriating, right

Afternoon car loading might be worse. There is so much waiting. There are moms who get to car loading two hours before school dismisses, so if you have an appointment and need to be in the front of the line, you must plan sit in your car for a really, really long time. But despite all of its complaint-worthy qualities, I might miss it — just a little bit.

This week, after 15 years of dropping children off at school, I drove through the car line for the last time with my son, Charlie. I watched him walk through the doors of his high school with the knowledge that the next day, he would drive himself and walk in, away from my watchful eye. I remembered a little boy giving sweet hugs and kisses before exiting the car to head into preschool. I thought about a sweet boy in elementary school greeting me with smiles and tales of his day. Visions of conversations between our two boys filled my head as I considered how two brothers became best friends.

I remembered the first drop off in sixth grade. Wow, those middle school kids looked so big! I watched him confidently walk in with his big brother showing him the way. I remember days when he was surly. Usually, the bad mood came because I forced him to wear pants instead of shorts in the winter. What is it about adolescent boys that makes them want to wear shorts all winter long? By the time we arrived at school, the argument was usually long forgotten. A quick “I love you,” and he was off.

Middle school soon gave way to high school and though I was nearing the end of my days as a carpool mom, I didn't really think about how I would feel when it all ended. Then one day, it did. My friends asked if I was doing a happy dance, glad to be finished.

The truth is, as infuriating as the car line is, its ending was bittersweet. Instead of a happy dance, I cried a little, mourning the end of an era. When Charlie arrived home, I asked him how it felt to drive without me in the car. He said it was quiet and just a little lonely.

While I know he would never go back to the days before this freedom, I think he might miss it a little, too!

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