The Stages of The Carpool Lane, and also I Wrote a New Book


The carpool lane might be one of the world’s best arguments for homeschooling.  If there’s one thing that most consistently makes me impatient, or straight up makes me lose my mind, it’s the morning carpool lane at my kids’ school.  If you could be a fly on the windshield (which is admittedly a gross comparison) during the morning drop off, you’d probably question my salvation. Seriously, the carpool lane challenges the fruits of my spirit.

The carpool lane has stages.

  1. Good intentions. Prepare for duty, men. We will be on time.  We will be ready.  We will stay in line, follow the protocol, wave to the teacher in the yellow vest, open the door when it’s time, hop out as required, and begin the day with tidiness and efficiency.
  2. Judgment and Condemnation. We will get behind a minivan with a bumper sticker that says I used to be cool, which is so very relatable. But shortly after I get past the irony of relating to who we once were, I get impatient because it seems this particular minivan is a clown car containing more children in their car than there are seatbelts. Or worse yet, there is one beloved child nestled into the very back row, too young to manipulate the buckles on his five-point harness and hop out on his own.
  3. Inch forward. Wait for our turn. What makes it so hard for minivans to move forward in that lane?  Mind the gap, just like on the subway.  Watch when there is space in front of you, and move forward. Fill it in.  It’s not that hard, you guys.  It just… isn’t.  We will see minivan doors wide open with children not getting out. We become frustrated and say things like, “What on the actual earth is taking so long up there? Are they brushing their teeth in that minivan?  Is she going to wipe their faces and their bottoms before they get out to start their day??”  It’s not pretty.
  4. It’s almost our turn. And suddenly something happens. Somebody’s backpack falls open, or a lunchbox got left at home, or anxiety strikes over an unsigned reading log, or the dog jumps into the passenger’s seat, or my yoga mat falls out of the backseat… something happens.  There is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  In a great plot twist, we have become the problem.  How are we not ready?  I couldn’t tell you.  Except sometimes we’re just not.
  5. The tables turn and the power shifts. I see drivers behind us, tapping their steering wheels with their fresh manicures, questioning my parenting skills. I see their furrowed brows of disdain and impatience. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. Anyone who has ever said, “My kids would never do that,” should straight up buckle her seatbelt and be prepared for the healthy serving of humility that is your own child’s behavior. I mean, it’s possible that we’ll do our part in the seamless routine of the carpool lane as many as eight out of ten times, but that leaves two reckless variables. And let’s be honest: kids are the ultimate variable.
  6. Regret and Mom Guilt. I just needed to give my kid one more kiss. I lost my patience way back at in the leg of the race with the lunch-packing and the toothbrushing, I couldn’t send him into school with the frustration in my voice lingering like a bad smell on his shirt.  I needed to kiss his noggin, or at least bump his knuckles.  I needed to send him with love and confidence and leadership skills. And I needed the patience of the person behind me.  Even though she’s likely the very driver I didn’t have patience for last week.
  7. Repeat Stage One. Every morning of the school year, we promise ourselves we will do better tomorrow.

The thing is, no matter how well I start out the morning, small things go wrong every day.  I feel rushed or overwhelmed or ignored, I feel like time is moving too fast or too slow, I feel defined but what I’ve forgotten to do, and suddenly I’m slamming the dishwasher and rushing the kids. These little inconveniences are nothing in comparison to the greater sufferings happening in the world, and yet they are not nothing.  They are my world, petty as it sometimes feels.  I have known the blackness of deep sorrow, and these irritations are not that.  These are ordinary days that make me wait.

Everybody waits.  Nobody likes it.  That’s the bottom line. It’s part of life, part of every single day.

We wait in line, wait for coffee to percolate, wait for the light to change, wait for Christmas, wait for morning, wait for permission.

We wait for a spouse, wait for a baby, wait on our children, wait on our parents.

We wait in the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the post office, and for a leader to take office.

We wait for clarity, for direction, to feel sure.

We wait on a job, a promotion, a new boss, a new day.

We wait for hope and for healing and for miracles.

We wait on God.  And when we misunderstand what waiting is about, we can get confused about what God is up to.

Waiting is a big deal to God. It’s one of God’s favorite tools to get our attention. God wants to do something unique in my heart and in yours, and the process of waiting gives him fertile ground to do important work in our hearts, our relationships, and our very lives. Waiting can be sacred space. It does not have to be passive or inactive. Actually, it can be active, filled with anticipation, and even sprinkled with joy.

And so, I’m writing a book about Waiting.  It’s called Just You Wait, and it’s coming to you in 2019.  I think it’s filled with goodness, and it certainly holds my whole heart. Because I don’t know how to write a book halfway.

My manuscript is in the hands of my beloved editor, a dear friend who makes me better in every way, on and off the page.  It’s coming to bookshelves next year.  Stay tuned.

Just. You. Wait.

(See what I did there?)

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Prov 13:12
    To include carpool lanes, new book releases, salvation of a loved one, healing and the list goes on 🙂

  2. Your killing me smalls. 2019 seems so far away. Me and waiting are not the best of friends. Can’t wait for your new book to roll out!

  3. I can’t wait!!!!!! 🙂

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