I used to be bitter about it.
Now I'm better for it.After I split with my ex, I missed my kids incredibly.
I felt shut out of their lives, except for every other weekend when they were at my place.
In between those times, it seemed, my main role in their lives was as little more than a glorified chauffeur.
I'd motor up their driveway to pick them up, take off, have a few minutes to try to catch up on their lives and then out the car door they'd go.
And I'd drive right out of their lives again.
I felt so removed from them, so out of touch with the intimate details of their relationships, their struggles or successes at school, their dreams of what or who they wanted to be.
I felt so peripheral, so incidental, so clueless, so helpless.
And I felt frustrated that so much of our short time together was inside the four doors of my 1996 Ford, ferrying them to friends' houses or music lessons.
Fast-forward to today. Not a lot has changed, except my own perceptions.
In fact, now that my kids are older and more mobile and social, I see them even less rather than more. I drive them around even more, not less.
But what I've found is that those precious few minutes in my car with them have become goldmine opportunities for discovery, not some desolate wasteland of non-relating.
With my son or daughter sitting right next to me in the front seat, I've got 'em! They're a foot away from me. They're MINE, ALL MINE!
There are no distractions. I can talk to them and find out what's really going on, how they feel, what's new.
What happened yesterday in their lives. What's happening today. How they did on that test. What they're struggling with. And I can tell them about me.
It might only last five or 10 minutes. But it's me and them, uninterrupted.
I still miss them and know how much of them and their lives I'm missing. But my car has become my connection to them, in some important ways.
My buddy, Homo Escapeons, has helped me to understand this over time...
...To make the most of the opportunities there are, rather than lament the missing out on the opportunities that no longer are.
I think he's the king of driving his kids everywhere and anywhere, at any time.
Now, I just wonder when my kids are going to start paying for the gas...