A bunch of years ago, I was at the grocery store with my toddler and my big pregnant body. Dylan, the toddler, wanted to get out of the cart and walk all by himself – so grown up. In my sleep-deprived state, I thought that was a great idea. As soon as his feet hit the floor, he took off at a run for the other end of the aisle? The meat department? Probably going to look for the veggies that he loved so much (I wished)!

Fortunately for me, a total stranger and her daughter intercepted him. I marveled at how that little girl, same age as Dylan was sitting so perfectly in the cart. And that mom was so calm and reassuring. She got Dylan interested in something, long enough for me to catch up. I thanked them and I’m sure out of pity, Karen introduced herself and we exchanged phone numbers for a future play date.

The beginning of an amazing friendship. We hung out once a week, probably more often, I can’t remember – you moms understand. Karen educated me about Montessori and our kids went to the same preschool. Karen helped me through all kinds of stuff and I hope I helped her too!

So, when we drifted apart as different grade schools got us involved in different things, and then a move to a different town made it harder to stay connected, I wondered if we’d ever find a reason to reconnect. I wondered if Dylan and Jenny would go to prom together and get married! Ooops, did I say that out loud…

I ran into Karen last year at a coffee shop, we had a 2 minute catch-up conversation. She was working 2 jobs, trying to hold it all together; I was over committed in a million ways; we promised to get together soon. Never happened, but we kept running into each other, or waving from our respective cars as we drove in opposite directions coming and going.

Then Jenny decided to switch schools and she needed a ride home once a week, at exactly the same time I was driving in that direction to pick up my kids!

So, for a year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a weekly half hour with an incredible high school girl. Jenny has grown into one amazing young woman. Sometimes, our drive was quiet, but usually, we talked. About everything. I learned a lot.

On our last scheduled drive, Jenny gave me this beautiful drawing – a Jenny Payne original – soon to be framed for my desk.

Thank you Dylan, for knowing when to get out of the grocery cart. And thanks Karen, for catching him. And of course, thank you Jenny for our Wednesday car rides.

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