Motherly Collective

When the summer began, I had never stood at a traditional school pick-up before. In fact, standing at pick-up was foreign to me. 

Up until this point, my toddler had been brought out to me by my car at his nursery school. This was the policy put in place for Covid in Fall 2020 to limit socializing and keep distance, and it had been so successful, they continued it for the entirety of the 2021-2022 year. For me, this was what it meant to do pick-up— the teachers came straight to the car and took kids from their car seats and that was that. 

At summer camp, parents participated in a traditional pick-up. This meant that I and the other mothers (fathers, grandparents and caregivers) would stand outside the building together waiting for camp to be over. This also meant I was about to encounter a “classic” social pick-up for the first time. It was such a mundane part of parenting, but also so novel to me. I met it with a feeling of uncertainty. I was not sure what to think. It felt so different. 

Related: 20 real thoughts every mom has in the school pickup line

This simple act of congregating with a group of other caregivers and parents was a huge adjustment. I had to learn how to do pick-up. I literally had to learn to stand with other mothers (and fathers, grandparents and caregivers), and get comfortable just being there. Every day was a little bit different. Sometimes I knew a mom or two and we chatted. Some days I stood alongside moms quietly. Toward the end of the program, I made chit chat with moms I did not know. 

To me, sitting in a line of cars felt like parenting. It was a huge step forward for me to participate in anything parenting related. My gratitude remains for this experience. 

As the summer went on, I began to appreciate these short windows of time. Here I was standing with other mothers whose children were at camp with my child. I began to deeply appreciate just standing with them, and the chance to feel part of something larger than myself. I did not need to know them or talk to them. I was just happy to be there. 

I soon realized that I had no idea how much I needed this experience. With our first year of nursery school, I knew nothing else. With pick-up and drop off via my car, I did not think about how drop off and pick up could be; I was just grateful that the program was open. To me, sitting in a line of cars felt like parenting. It was a huge step forward for me to participate in anything parenting related. My gratitude remains for this experience. 

Now that I have had the chance to stand with mothers, it reinforces how much I was longing for this moment. The experience was deeply important after the last two-and-a-half years where so many mundane social moments were not possible. This opportunity was now possible for me, and I have immense appreciation for it. 

Related: 5 tips to make school pick up and drop off easier on everyone

I have found myself very emotional about the end of camp in part because of how meaningful pick-up has been. There is a tenderness to it. So, to the mothers at pick-up, thank you. Thank you for helping me feel part of something so much bigger than myself. Thank you for both giving me a piece of motherhood I so deeply needed, and perhaps even healing a piece of that early motherhood isolation that lingered. Thank you.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.