You’re Here. You Came Here!

Sunday is the beginning of our school and working week. The return to the dreaded school car park coincides with the excitement of a quieter working space. Last year I was the master of co-ordinating corresponding activities for my children after school. The bonus being minimal time spent in the thirty way intersection that presents itself as the school parking space. Arriving at school just that little bit later meant missing the 3pm shit show. 
This year, I’ve failed. Soccer versus basketball, games versus math, nothing seems to align. We’re all over the place. No matter what, I have to be there for a child (usually just one) at 3.00 in the afternoon.
It’s not the time there that irks me, it’s the freaking car park. I loathe that car park. I loathe the process, I loathe the jostling. I loathe the minutes that I’ve lost in my life sitting in that car park. And the ridiculous thing? It’s not even a car park. It’s a barren stretch of dirt and rubble without a line drawn or piece of shade to be found. During the day it all looks easy enough, during peak hour it’s under siege, it’s a Sarajevo of SUV’s.
Now can I just stop for a moment to let you know that I’m embarrassed about this post already. Embarrassed not only for what I’ve written, but also for what I’m about to write. So far this story is completely self indulgent, loaded with first world problems and woe. I should have bigger things to worry about, right? 
But maybe, just maybe this is one of the most derogatory things that comes with being a parent.
That it’s these things that start to play a leading role in your life. These mind numbing parental issues that are linked with everything that is uncool in the world, these things are now your issues. How to kill a good dinner party? Start talking about the quality of wet wipes. The lost lunch box. The search for soccer cleats. The check in folder and the zip lock bags. The mundane that is so far from groovy or exciting. You can try and pretend that you’re a hipster, or even slightly retro while you’re carrying that Ninja Turtle backpack, but no-one is really buying it; we know you’ve got a cheese sandwich and a yoghurt with last night’s social studies homework in there. 
On Sunday morning I dropped the little travellers by the school gates and went through the usual routine. As they clambered out of the car I reminded them of the afternoons events, one by one. 
“I’ll see you at gate 10 at 4.15” my eldest.
“And you have games after school tonight, right?” my fourth.
“And you have soccer, yes?” my second.
 “And you have, oh that’s right, you don’t have anything” my easy going, happy go lucky, third.
It was then, in that moment, that I devised my brilliant plan. His flexibility combined with my desperation determination had me suggesting we meet after the school rush at a predetermined location. This would be breaking all school rules. I was suggesting a completely covert operation. 
He had a pained look on his face as he turned back to look at me. 
“Mum can’t you just come and get me at 3?”
I sighed out loud. Mumbled under my breath and agreed to be there at three.
It was about an hour later that the mothers guilt arrived at my door. I thought about his face. About my desperation. About the fact that I hadn’t even considered that this was an opportunity for him and I to have some one on one time. Time we never get. I saw his face again. Heard my sigh. Another wave of guilt washed over me. What sort of a mother was I?
I arrived at the school ten minutes early. Snuck through a side gate and pleaded my way past security (which is akin to talking your way into the Vanity Fair Oscars Party) and made my way to his classroom door. I was going to be a SuperMum, a hero in his eyes, bugger the gate, I was going to be right there at his locker.
It was better than I ever could have hoped for. When he came out of the door his eyes widened, I was the receiver of the look that comes with the best birthday present ever or the surprise ice-cream. He launched towards me for a hug.
“You’re here. You came here! To my door!”
“I thought it might be nice if we went somewhere together, just the two of us”
“Oh Mum, that would be fantastic. Can we do this every Sunday? Just the two of us.”
Twenty minutes later and he was helping me at the supermarket. We went through the list together, he found the bread, I found the yoghurt. We talked about the everyday, the soccer teams, needing new shoes, what he and his friends were talking about at lunch. We grabbed a cupcake and made our way back to school to get the others. 
I’m not sure if I ever thought about what parenting would look like. The uncool, the mundane, the everyday. I hadn’t pictured that. Nor had I foreseen how a certain look could make me feel.
“You’re here! You came here, to my door!”
It’s almost worth the wait in the car park.

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  1. Gorgeous. A spark in the mundane. What a way to do a school pick up 🙂

  2. Oh my, that description of the carpark could be my every afternoon. It’s also the hottest place on earth! Maybe even hotter than the sun. But, yes, it’s worth that look! x

  3. Thank you for making me smile. I’ll be looking forward to this in the not too distant future.

    SSG xxx

  4. please : “it’s a Sarajevo of SUV’s.” means ????

  5. lovely post…the mundane for us is so special for them as long as they get to do it with you….so special, moments to treasure…

  6. You made me cry. That was perfect.

  7. This was perfect!

  8. Lovely. My four year old says this every day when I get home from work–“Mom! You’re back! You came back!” as if in a previous life he was an abandoned child. It makes me smile as I tell him, “Yes, I will ALWAYS come back.”

  9. So sweet.

  10. Oh, Kirsty, so BANG ON!
    I was lucky enough to have a job in previous years that allowed me to pick Kiddo up from that very school. I would curse my way through that parking lot rock pit, twisting my ankles and wearing the bitchiest face until that moment where my child would come out the lower elementary doors and cast her eyes upon me. And the crap would immediately dissipate.
    With the new job, I get to curse my way in at morning drop-off, and she has to take the bus home … but somehow I just know that one day I will look back wistfully upon the memory of us twisting our ankles crossing that lot.
    Thanks for so eloquently reminding me to appreciate it.

  11. oh you made me cry! That was lovely and I just love his reaction. My daughter is too young for this but when I am back in Australia I love surprising my nephews at school pick up for exactly this reason.

  12. I love this! I have 7.5 yr old twin boys and I too understand how hard it is to carve out that precious one-on-one time. It’s all about those stolen moments. The extra 10 minutes at bedtime, the quick chat before his brother gets out of the bath, the moment when homework is finished first. We live for those too.

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