Wednesday, April 26, 2023

I Love You, Make Good Choices, Choose Joy

Want to know the downside of sending your kids to a great Catholic school?  

No bus.

Want to know the upside of not putting your kids on a bus?

Spending those ten minutes with them in the car each morning.

I used to look at the morning drop off as just another box to check on my to-do list.  Getting seven kids ready in the morning and packed into my van to drop them off at school and daycare was a lot of work.  And then I had to go to actual work which started at 7:15 am.  When the daycare drop off ended, and they all went to school it was like a weight was lifted.  When I switched jobs and didn't have to be at work until 8 am it was like another weight lifted. These days I am down to driving the last three guys (not so little, but still my littles) to school in the morning.

We get in the van at 7:15 and say our morning prayers, listen to the impossible question on the radio and try to call in if we think we know the answer.  I hear about what each one has going on and what they are excited for (getting to pick their history fair project topic!) and what they are not looking forward to (telling the teacher they forgot their homework at home!).  I so enjoy these moments with them, and I have more wisdom now to see the beauty in it.

I'm not going to tell you to ENJOY EVERY MINUTE with your kids and that IT GOES BY SO FAST because sayings like that make me feel anxious and guilty.  I used to be in such a physically exhausting stage of parenting that I absolutely did not enjoy the morning drop off.  Circumstances changed and I have the grace to be able to see how fleeting this stage is, mostly because I have gone through it already, and that allows me to appreciate it now.  You can't just jump ahead to the point of appreciating and fondly remembering the hard years without going through the hard years first.  And the hard years make it difficult to enjoy every minute, no need feeling guilty about that.

Though the number of kids in my van has changed dramatically through the years, one thing that has not changed  is that I say "I love you.  Make good choices.  Choose joy." at every morning drop off.  And those cute and innocent little kids look back at me and say "Love you too!" as they run into the school, ready for the day ahead.  I need the daily reminder just as much as they do, and I am so thankful for the privilege of being their mom and for the blessing of morning drop offs.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! Ours used to ride the bus and now we are transfers and so there is no more bus. At first I hated driving and picking them up everyday, but now I am very grateful for that little bit of time with them. It definitely makes me feel more connected. We say prayers on our way to school and then I get to hear about their day on the way home. Anna just got her license last week and is driving herself to school now and I miss my time with her already.

  2. This was just a lovely post from start to finish, Colleen. We've kept a saying from their preschool years: I love you. Be kind, be safe, be neat...and have fun! But I like yours better. " "I love you. Make good choices. Choose joy."

    The choices part reminds me a bit of one of my high school teachers. She would always tell us, in the last class of the week, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do. And if you do - don't do it twice." I still laugh remembering that line. It's incredible what "mantras" like this can really etch into our memories.

    One of my go-to lines with the kids is: You are a joy and a blessing. Sometimes I say it through gritted teeth, I'll admit, as they are in the middle of so much fighting lately...but at the core it's true every day. Parenting is hard and exhausting, but they ARE a joy and they ARE a blessing.

  3. Time spent in the car with kids on the way to and from school was such a blessing. I definitely miss that time with my kids. Oh, who am I kidding! I just plan miss my kids! And you are right, it is so easy to get nostalgic about the good old days and only remember the best parts when in fact some days (many days) were just plain old hard! Perspective is a beautiful thing and I'm glad you are finding joy in the morning drop off with the last of your littles!

  4. Ah, you are a breath of fresh air, Colleen. What a great morning routine you have. I used to be VERY grouchy about driving kids to school. Coach worked crazy early most days, so I drove the gang and it was usually stressful. I once made them all right a letter of apology to their teachers because SO.MANY.TARDIES. The teachers had to sign it and return it TO ME. The teachers found it very entertaining. I don't drive kids to school anymore. They took the bus for years, but there were years in the middle part when I drove (which was a reason that I almost refused to move to our current house - no more bus).

    I feel somewhat guilty but I admit that a driving-to-school highlight for me was the times we raced Mary Ann's minivan from across the street. Not exactly a prayerful activity, but hey - it was a hoot and we laughed so much together. Then there was the time that we got all the way home and realized we left Mini in the parking lot. She was in 1st or 2nd grade. Oops. I like your lesson to count your blessings, but sometimes it's also a good idea to count your children. ;)

  5. This made me tear up a bit. I hope your kids felt loved and made good choices joyfully today!! I am big on the "Be Kind" but I may steal your "choose joy" salutation to add to the mix!

  6. You are such a wonderful, caring and sweet Mom. Your kids are so lucky to have start their days off with all the good stuff to carry them through the day. It is fleeting and seeing in in hindsight has so much clarity.

  7. Awww, I love this! (Although after driving mine to school last year when Cece was in preschool, 20-25 minutes each way, I am TOTALLY appreciating the fact that they can ride the bus now that Cece is in kindergarten. Our public school district busses kids within a 10 mile radius to any private school, and there's enough kids in our neighborhood that attend our school that they get their own dedicated mini bus!) Between various after school activities I pick them up from school 2-3 days per week and you're right -- I am going to miss it some day!

    Also loving your sweet send-off to them each day. I always tell mine I love them but I may steal your other ideas!


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