4-Wheel Confessional: Quiet Moments in the Car Make This Mom's Mother's Day

Jenni and Ben Newman

It happens unexpectedly. I'll be driving one of my sons to basketball camp, a baseball game or soccer practice, trying to navigate traffic and the clock, and a nugget of insight will slip from their lips. It could be something trivial about their school day or their new favorite song. Or it could be something a little deeper — a moment of self-reflection that gives this mom of a teen and tween hope that these boys are learning the life lessons that my husband and I harp on.

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It doesn't happen often, but it almost always seems to happen in the car. There's something about these magical machines that elicits these conversations. As Mother's Day approaches, my wish for moms (and dads) is that they also experience these moments with a greater frequency — and have enough space in their day to savor it.

Maybe the free flow of information happens because we're not facing each other. My youngest sits in the backseat and my oldest sits in the front passenger seat — and I've got my eyes on the road. There's no pressure and no endless questions from me trying to find out what's going on in their lives. It also happens where there are few distractions; their cellphones have been left at home or put down for a few moments.

I savor these moments — and I try not to screw them up. I may ask a few follow-up questions, but I have to remind myself not to drill too far down to where the boys will clam up. I imagine it can be a little difficult having a journalist for a mother; I can't help but ask question after question as I dig into a topic with them at the dinner table. In the car, I let the moments pass a little faster than I'd like to in the hopes that another one will come through.

These little confessionals are magical in another way, too. Not only do I get to see deeper inside my boys, but it also helps to momentarily remove all the stress and pressures of the day. It no longer matters that traffic isn't moving and we've got 10 minutes to drive 5 miles in Chicago's unrelenting traffic. It no longer matters that the car is yet again a rolling disaster area with sports gear in every space. And it no longer matters that we're overscheduled — something we swore we'd never become.

This Mother's Day, I'll be heading to a baseball field to watch my tween play and my husband coach. Maybe on our drive to the baseball field, Son No. 2 will tell me something that's on his mind. Maybe he won't. But whenever it happens, I'll be ready and always wanting a little more.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

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