A couple of months ago I decided that sharing the ride to work made perfect sense in my world. I could save money and have some company riding through the cornfields on my way to the office in Iowa. I talked to a colleague, who made the same daily trek from the city and we planned to begin the following week.
Monday came. I arrived at her house and parked, waiting for her to emerge with her toddler in tow. Unlike most carpools, our third participant is under the age of two. Greta's day care provider is just a mile or so from our office. Little did I know how much this little bundle of energy would affect our journey each morning.
At first, she was definitely not down with having another human being to steal mommy's attention. The more we talked, the more needs she vocalized. More milk, more crackers, more books, more toys. Look at me, Mommy, I'm talking to you.
Over the past few weeks she has learned a few tricks. When Mommy won't respond, Melissa will. Since the novelty has worn off, she's likely, on most mornings, to do her own thing and only raise the volume when something is seriously wrong...book bin has tipped or she's lost a shoe, or found a shoe, or thinks there's something interesting about her shoe. I'm good with this. She makes us laugh and fills up the time with her little observations.
What I didn't count on was the safe mommy space carpooling has created for two full time writers who also happen to be mothers of preschoolers. It's just not cool to bring mommy issues to work. Our associates don't want to hear about every cute comment uttered, each milestone reached, and the sleepless night spent cradling a sick kid.
On the other hand, our precious carpool is perfectly suited to indulging in mommyhood full force. I can tell her how funny it was when Scout explained the features and habitat of the marmoset and the peregrin falcon without worrying that she'll be bored. She knows I'll share her joy when Greta sings the entire alphabet song without prompting. She mentions how tired she is of changing dirty diapers, and I reassure her that it will end. I share my frustration that people in my family give me a hard time about being overprotective, and she understands. Food allergies, great toys, where to get a deal on used books...all of these are relevant and important in our mommy space.
Best of all, there's no one to judge us or roll their eyes, except perhaps Greta, who is perfectly content, as long as we respond when she says, "oops."