Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

“What was your favorite part of the trip, guys?”

The bedtime gratitudes were about to begin. I love this part of the day.

“The cheetahs!”

Not surprising. Cheetahs were basically the reason we drove four hours to see this famous zoo. He’s obsessed with cheetahs.

“The splash park!”

I laugh. Also, not surprising. She loves getting wet.

“What about you, Mommy? What was your favorite part?

I pause. The zoo was fantastic. I especially loved the aquarium. Watching the kids race back and forth, unsure of what to take in first. That’s always fun. Holding hands with my hubby for most of the day. That also was lovely. But . . . I knew my truly favorite part was too boring to actually say aloud.

My 7-year-old daughter audibly rolls her eyes, “Don’t tell me. It was the drive, wasn’t it?”

I smile conspiratorially.

Groans erupt from my totally disgusted children. Then we laugh. Of course the drive was my favorite part.

I love driving. Breaking out of the humdrum of the everyday. Seeing new countryside, stopping in tiny towns, imagining I was first cresting this hill in a prairie schooner pulled by a team of oxen. Something different from the monotony of our regular routine. It makes me feel free.

RELATED: Want Happy Kids? Experts Say Take That Trip

Mostly, though, I love our family when we drive.

We listen to audiobooks. The Boxcar Children and The Jungle Book and a home school history textbook with a great narrator. We have to pause the story every 10 minutes or so because someone has a suggestion on how the main character could have done something smarter. Or wouldn’t it have been super funny if . . . Or wait, what happened?

The kids giggle at funny jokes they make between themselves. They make lots of farting noises. I pretend to be disgusted. My husband smiles and eggs them on.

We turn on the Disney playlist and crank it up, singing at the top of our lungs. The kids take turns unbuckling to grab something from the back of the Tahoe.

Really, if you think about it, it makes sense that the drive is the best part for parents.

As the mom on board, I have just finished imagining every possible situation, what might go wrong, and packing the car with everything we would need in any of those situations.

When we get to the hotel, we will contend with fighting over which side of the bed they get. We’ll scold them for jumping between the beds even though I remember that being the best part of hotels when I was a kid. And we’ll spend the whole evening trying to scold them to be quiet without being loud ourselves.

Then we’ll have to mitigate opinions and dietary needs as we try to find a place for dinner. I wish we could just order a pizza, but my daughter has suddenly stopped eating pizza a few months ago. We end up compromising and go through two drive-thrus.

Then comes the crazy-making experience of a crowded zoo in a new city during COVID. There’s the challenge of keeping my eyes on both kids as they run in opposite directions at a crowded, big-city zoo.

“Pull up your mask!”

“Please don’t climb that.”

“Again? OK, let’s find a map.”

“Did you wash your hands?”

“No, I’m not choosing her animal first. Tigers come before cheetahs on the route we planned.”

“Yes, I’m thirsty, too.”

“Stop touching everything!”

“Please keep your hands to yourselves.”

As we pile back in the car amid the bickering, sweat, and very tired feet, I ultimately wonder if it was worth it. Every time.

And then we’re right back into my favorite part. Ice cream. Singing together. Talking about the best things we saw. Playing “would you rather?”

RELATED: 14 Ways To Survive Road Tripping With Kids, Without Losing Your Mind

I wonder if that will be my favorite part of raising them, too. We push toward the events in our livesbaseball teams winning, orchestra concerts, honor rolls, and graduations, and we take pictures of the birthday parties, family reunions, and visiting friends.

I suspect that when the kids are grown, I’ll look back on it all and think that the sweetest part was the journey between the events. The rainy Saturdays at home. The hours we spent reading on the couch. The snuggling in bed and connecting at the end of every day. Giggling and making noise together in the music room. The quiet, everyday togetherness.

Yes, kids. My favorite part is the drive.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Kathryn Liber

Kathryn Liber is a Midwestern mother to a boy who loves books and a girl who loves dirt. A lover of words, coffee, and good food, if she isn't reading, writing, or speaking words . . . it's probably because her mouth is full of something delicious!

The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Night

In: Kids, Motherhood
Children running through field, black and white photo

I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted. At 8 p.m., my patience shuts off. It’s like I have some sort of glitch in my mommy code, or maybe I just missed the patience upgrade with each kid or something?  So when I have to jump through so many drinks-of-water hoops, tickle hoops, tuck-in hoops, bedtime-song hoops, pee-pee hoops, and brush-your-freaking-teeth-already hoops, I feel that if they don’t get away from me as soon as possible, I’m going to jump through the I’ve-lost-my-mind hoop and escape into a dimension where only brownies, beaches, and books exist. RELATED: But...

Keep Reading

Every Time Our Babies Walk Away From Us, They Come Back a Little Bit Older

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

Every time my baby walks away from me, she comes back a little bit older. This hit me the other night. It was past bedtime, but she had come out of her room and found me in the backyard. I can’t even remember what it was she “needed.” Maybe a drink of water, maybe she had a hangnail, or maybe (probably) she just didn’t want to call it a day quite yet. Whatever the reason, after a few moments and one more hug goodnight, she was walking away from me back to the house. And it hit me. Every time...

Keep Reading

Mothers Grieve a Million Little Losses as Their Babies Grow Up

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom and little boy at sunset

Fifteen years ago, I was pregnant with my oldest son and I spent all my free moments devouring every baby book I could get my hands on. I bookmarked websites about babies and child development, confident I would now know where to turn for guidance along every step of my parenting journey. I joined online groups with other mommies to expand my social network and find potential support resources. I prepared and prepared and then prepared some more. But, all those books and websites failed to tell me something important—something that would make me cry rivers of tears sometimes and...

Keep Reading