We recently sold our 2005 mini-van. It is the vehicle that our youngest child first travelled in after we touched down at the end of a twenty-four hour adoption journey from China. It was the third in a twenty-five plus year string of Wilson mini-vans. This was only broken by a one year experiment with a large SUV. I quickly realized that wasn't my style and not nearly as practical for our family's particular needs.
Mini-vans are highly functional for families. But I must admit that I am enjoying driving something that is a little shorter and better looking, especially in a downtown environment that requires frequent parallel parking.
The family who bought our van has a number of small children that I interact with regularly. The mom told me that each time they get ready to ride in it, the kids say, "Are we riding in Ms. Tricia's van?" I can't quite shake the Tricia & mini-van association.
One thing that led to the decision to downsize my vehicle was the reality that as our girls are growing up and heading toward the days when they drive themselves, I will cease to carpool large numbers of children. Our oldest girl started high school last week. We are well on our way to the empty nest years, despite the creative ways that I have delayed this inevitable mom experience.
Last week I was rummaging through a box of school related items. Though the use of lockers is waning in many high schools, our daughter wishes to have one this year. She is running cross country and wants somewhere to leave her stuff rather than backpack it all from class to class. As I looked through the box, I saw this:
As I touched it, a three number combination came to mind, and I gave it a whirl. Turn to the right, back to the left, and then right again. It clicked open! This was my actual high school combination lock sitting in a box of school supplies. I graduated from high school over thirty seven years ago. I delivered it to my daughter and asked her if she wanted to use it. She was game. That made me smile.
As I leave my mini-van days behind and as my girls navigate high school and lockers, I feel nostalgia and excitement all mixed together. I certainly know by now that children grow up in the blink of an eye. We are entrusted with their care for a short time. The goal is to prepare them as best we can and send them off to travel their own paths.
As my kids continue to grow up and out into the world, I have a wish -that children are always a part of my world. Whether they are the age when mini-vans are exciting or closer to the age of high schools and lockers, I hope that I always make it a priority to slow down, ask questions, and listen to the voices of younger generations. They have so very much to teach me.
In one week, I invite you to join my story of a thirty year parenting journey (with many hours spent in a mini-van) that has led me to interesting, surprising, painful, and beautiful places. Adopting Grace: A Parenting Journey from Fear to Freedom available on September 12.