Carpool Makes Me A Mom Superhero

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 

When you first have kids, you spend an awful lot of time avoiding any activity that requires you to cram your infant into a car seat. You develop reasons to stay home rather than attend playgroup, and you readily say “nope” to spending time trying to run errands with a toddler screaming from the backseat of the car that he’s dropped his sippy cup and his sock is “hurty.”

And for the most part, in those formative years at least, you can get away with going to the grocery store once every few weeks and attending a random playdate with a mom who doesn’t judge you for having dried poop on your yoga pants.

But then your kids go to school. And sign up for activities. And sports. And school plays. Suddenly, your calendar looks like a minefield, and you spend your evenings planning the next day’s events like a general in a tense war room. The logistics are exhausting, and even if you micromanage every detail with military precision, someone inevitably gets left behind or forgotten.

With the push for kids to be involved in all the things, all the time, moms are left to feel like hamsters in a minivan wheel every minute of every day.

In the early days, I struggled with trying to be everywhere all at once. I broke speed limits as I rushed between soccer practice and Scout meetings, my kids ate dinner in the backseat of the car more than they didn’t, and there were days I was in the car for hours on end as I performed my taxicab duties. It was starting to feel like my car was my second home, and I was always on the go.

But a few years back, when my kids graduated out of their car seats, I was introduced to the most magical, wonderful invention ever: the carpool.

Oh, yes.

The carpool is a mom superhero’s secret weapon, and it’s what makes us able to race to dance lessons faster than a speeding bullet and leap to soccer practices in a single bound. Carpool moms are a tight-knit gang, bound together by a mutual desire to be on the couch, snuggled in our LuLaRoe leggings at a decent hour. I can’t live without my carpool and the mom superheroes behind the wheels.

As much as I love the carpool, there are rules I must follow: regulations, protocols that must be adhered to to the letter, lest you annoy the other mom willing to take your kid to karate every other Tuesday night. Strict rules of engagement that must be followed at all times. Because your carpool privileges are to be protected, no matter the cost.

Carpools are arranged by group text, so get over it.

Everyone hates the group text, I get it. But in the carpool world, the group text reigns supreme. All details are worked out with approximately 52 texts, and you are honor-bound to keep up with all the goings-on. It’s the first rule of Carpool Club.

Carpool is on the honor system, and no one likes a cheater.

In my neighborhood, we have a weekly carpool to Boy Scouts. We don’t have assigned weeks, and we pitch in on an as-needed basis. But it is understood that if you haven’t driven in a week or two, you step up to the plate and do your share. No one likes a carpool abuser, people. Don’t be an ingrate.

There’s no need to come out to the car and make small talk. So don’t.

The mom behind the wheel knows what it’s like to be the mom waving at the door and vice versa. When I’m waving to the mom at the door, I know she’s going to get a few minutes of peace and quiet and that she most certainly doesn’t want to make small talk — because I sure as hell don’t when I’m waving to the car headlights. Carpool moms understand.

Unless your kid is deathly ill and not going to Tae Kwon Do, you don’t cancel on carpool duties. Or else.

A mom’s carpool lineup is a carefully orchestrated, well-oiled machine. In any given week, I have four or five carpools that I’m organizing, and often, it’s down to the minute. If a mom suddenly throws a last-minute “Whoops, we decided to stay home!” text into the day, it can topple a very precarious situation. If you agree to the carpool, you do the carpool, ladies. Period. Because otherwise, my kid is getting left behind at basketball practice, and I don’t need that kind of drama.

The mom driving is allowed to embarrass her child and listen to ’80s music.

My tween and teen have come to hate the days I’m in charge of the drop-off carpool because at 6:45 a.m., I need more than a sunrise to get me going. So the likes of Jon Bon Jovi or Katy Perry are often blaring from my radio, much to my children’s chagrin. And I delight in singing all the words — loudly. But if a mom has a carful of kids, she gets control of the radio. End of story. Sorry/not sorry, kiddos.

Without my dedicated circle of carpool moms, my kids would miss out on amazing opportunities because of my inability to be in 16 places at once. And yes, I know I should probably say “no” to activities and outings to keep our afternoon schedule more relaxed. But when you have an army of moms at the ready to use their minivans for good and not evil, why wouldn’t I bask in the glow of being Supermom?

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