When I got married and began my teaching career, my two door sports car was replaced by a four door sedan. It was a safe and mature Volvo. It suited my new lifestyle, living on my own getting ready to start a family. I loved that car.
Fast forward to 2015 and my current vehicle is a Mini Van. Which, by the way, I swore I would never want or need. I refused to be that mom who would go out of the house wearing sweat pants, forgetting to apply lip gloss, with a “Baby On Board” sticker attached to my bumper…yet here I am.
I have 5 children now to shuttle to soccer, dance, gymnastics, doctor appointments, play dates, and school events. My choice of transportation became increasingly limited as each new baby was added to our family.
Now as we fill our vehicle and before we embark on our latest extra curricular activity I will ask, “who needs to use the bathroom?” “Not me,” they retort. I ask each child the appropriate question, “Do you have your soccer cleats, dance bag, water bottle, etc?” The answer is always the same annoyed response “Yes mom, you ask me that every time.”
Often an argument will break out before I even start the car. It is about who is sitting where as they relocate, stumbling over each other, and each other’s belongings, with of course one straggler whose late arrival will force a second realignment. Inevitably, someone will have pushed the horn as loudly as possible to hurry their late arriving sibling along launching the first fight of our trip. Note; we haven’t even left our driveway.
As I double check seat belts, recheck to see if i have my snacks, cell phone and purse Ii take a deep breathe, place my car in reverse and off we finally go.
Within the first 2 miles I hear, “ I have to go pee.” “I left my notebook.” “Mom did you bring my shin guards?” (Shin guard is on my front porch.) “Hurry we are going to be late.” “I am hot, I am cold, turn up the air condition, roll the windows down, no roll them up.” Up and down my windows go until I hammer down the window lock. Meanwhile there is the radio merry go round. “I like this song turn it up…I hate this song …turn it down.” Once your oldest child can sit in the front seat you are done for. They will change the radio, fidget, and talk your ear off. Before that you still have a zone of privacy even in the loud mini van. You covet your personal space and try to hold onto to it but the raiders are relentless.
The absence of cleanliness in a vehicle transporting 5 little humans must be accepted. Half empty water bottles in the cup holders, smooshed french fries lie between the seats, crushed goldfish all over the carpeted floors, stray crayons rolling around in the back seat, school books, sweaty socks balled up on the floor, baby toys rattling about singing nursery rhymes from a dark crevice so remote and hidden that it can’t found to be turned off.
“I’m hungry!” (even though they just finished dinner 20 minutes ago. “I’m tired!” “My tooshy hurt!” “Are we there yet?” “He hit me!” “She pinched me!” “OUCH!” “Stop it!”
The symphony of complaints swirl around in your head as you try to concentrate on the road.
The final indignity is finding your but is stuck to your seat by the lollipop the bank teller gave your whining child earlier in the day to quiet her.
Other motorists going too fast, too slow, crossing lanes or pulling out in front of you without warning causes you to bite your lip until it is ready to bleed, but you must not fill little ears with curse words those drivers have earned. Particularly when you fear your kindergartener will repeat those choice words in circle time in school tomorrow.
Let us not forget how we will turn around one handed to shake, nudge, and rattle our youngest child so that they do not fall asleep. Falling asleep now will only throw off bedtime giving our littlest new energy that will have mommy chasing them about well until midnight. The success rate is very low for mommy on this one.
We know our kids will not win the World Cup,or perform on Broadway, or compete in the Olympics so why do we put ourselves through this? Seeing our child’s face light up on stage as they tap away, or scoring a goal, or tumbling across the mats makes every minute we endure worth it.
So if you slip up and cuss at the driver that cut you off, forgive yourself, we all do it, we just don’t admit it. If you have ever turned around and threatened to pull over and make your children walk (which they know you would never actually do…that’s why that threat doesn’t work) forgive yourself.
You are officially inaugurated in the “Mini Van Moms Club.” Welcome Aboard and please drive safely.