Close-up of a tire of a car on a gravel rode.
TRAVEL: These wheels have seen some miles. And a lot of gravel.

Gas up the car, friends

One hundred and twenty miles in one night? With math that includes three rural towns, three kids in school, one mom, a grandma and a partridge in a pear tree, yes. Here’s how it works.

It’s 4 p.m. on a Thursday. I’ve driven my three kids 15 miles to piano lessons, just outside Ellisville, Ill. Nathan goes first.

At 4:30, I take him 20 miles to Bushnell to meet the carpool for football practice.

Then I drive 20 miles back to Ellisville. Pick up Caroline; take her down the road to play practice at the Ellisville Opera House.

Back to piano lessons. Pick up Jenna. Take her back home. Fifteen miles. Again.

Fix supper (i.e., heat up leftovers).

Drive 25 miles to Sciota to pick up five sweaty junior high football boys for my leg of the carpool.

Drive home. Be grateful my mother-in-law can drive back to Ellisville to pick up Caroline from play practice, which ends while I’m carpooling sweaty boys. And my husband, John, has a meeting at church tonight. Of course.

Sound exhausting and ridiculous? Yes. Yes, it is. It’s slightly insane, and we’ve even limited the stuff our kids can be in. We’re not even big sports people; frankly, we’re just not that coordinated.

But life in the rural countryside with three school-age kids means you drive. A lot.

I refuse to complain. All this running means we have healthy, engaged kids, right? They like music, sports and theater. Thank goodness the show heifers have headed out to pasture, because that might push us over the edge. Certainly, harvest and trucks and meals-in-the-field will do that soon enough.

Funny story: When my kids were babies and toddlers and preschoolers, I thought that I’d have so much time once they all got into school. (I hear you laughing, moms of older kids.) Someone should have patted my blessedly naive hand and shared what school would really mean — that those babies would have lives and interests. And we’d have amazing music teachers and directors and coaches who would bless our hearts and lives with their gifts, and would live not nearby.

So if you’re raising the babies these days and doing it in the country, let me tell you this: The day will come when you will drive to all the places. You will learn to gas up the car whenever you’re in town. And you will love it, because with every mile and every practice and every lesson, you’ll watch those babies grow. You’ll be tired. But it’ll be worth it. I promise.

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