Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

A photo of my disgusting car went viral. And sorry, but I’m not sorry.

A couple of years ago, I posted a picture of what the seat of my car looked like after I had removed a car seat. The rest of my car was actually not too bad, but underneath that car seat was a scene of sheer destruction and horror that only someone who has had to move a car seat could possibly understand.

Ladies . . . it was a hot mess: 

messy seat in a car, color photoThere were crushed up crackers, puffy Cheetos, and Cheerios. There were crunched up Goldfish sprinkled around, and, inexplicably, a Bubble Guppies sticker attached to a popsicle. I had never seen so many orange snacks at one time, but for some reason, there they all were, collected on the underside of my daughter’s car seat.

RELATED: My Car is Always Messy Because I Have Kids

And honestly? I thought it was hysterical and oh, so real. So I shared it on our Instagram page.

It wasn’t long before the thing blew up, and with it, so did my confidence in myself as a mother and a reasonably clean person.

Certainly, there were lots of people who related to the image. Many jokingly asked how the sites that shared the image got a picture of their car. Many shared laughing emojis, tagged their partners, and clearly commiserated with what I had found underneath it. There were thousands of shares from people who totally understood where I was coming from.

And then there were the others.

Some simply stated this was the exact reason no one should ever let their kids eat in the car. Others said pictures like this were the reason they didn’t have children. Many questioned why there was so much junk food under the seat and asked what kind of mother would feed her kids so much processed food.

I was called a slob, a mess, and a disaster. I was told I was an embarrassment to mothers everywhere. Some even questioned if I should be allowed to keep my kids, seeing as how my life was so disgustingly filthy.

I was, naturally, taken aback. But the one thing I never was, was sorry.

My car may be a mess, but my life isn’t. Every day I experience the ups and downs of motherhood. Some days are beautiful, full of sweet treats and forehead kisses. Some are a disaster, filled to the brim with thinly-veiled bribes and desperate pleas for the kids to just behave.

But the image of the car seat, messy as it may be, will never make me ashamed. It tells the story of this season, and of the messy, wonderful life I share with the two delicious little terrors entrusted to my care.

RELATED: I’m the Mom With the Messy House

Those crackers represented times when I kept my daughter entertained while her baby brother snuck in his only nap of the day.

The Goldfish kept them from ruining their naps on a long drive home from Pretend City, my daughter’s favorite place in the whole wide world.

The lollipop was from Paul’s, our favorite outdoor restaurant and one of the few places we could take our two kids to eat without causing a scene.

The footprints on my console are where my children stood so they could see out of the sunroof, dancing and cheering like rock stars as we waited for the library to open.

The cotton candy stuck to the seat was from a family trip to Chuck E. Cheese where for three scary minutes we couldn’t find the baby. We found him safe and sound, right where we left him, but I was so shocked and disrupted I used a cotton candy bribe to end our trip early.

The Bubble Guppies sticker was from the time my daughter received a flu shot and felt so betrayed she instantly burst into tearsnot from the pain but from the shock. That sticker-on-a-stick was how I brought her back into my arms and showed her that even in the worst of times, we were a team.

I’m not saying I love the fact that my car was–and is–a mess. Far from it. But I wouldn’t change those momentsthe road trips, the sleeping babies, and the hard and beautiful work of mothering these little onesfor the world. 

Someday my car will be clean again. Someday these kids will be grown.

I’m sure I won’t remember the embarrassment of having a dirty car, and I’m sure I’ll even forget exactly how to get stuck-on cotton candy out of upholstery. (Boiling hot water and a dish scrubber for the inquiring minds that need to know.)

And long after the cotton candy is gone and the windows are clean, I will be left with the memories of these messy, complicated, and truly beautiful days. I will remember the road trips, and the dancing, and the unique mix of joy and exhaustion that described this season.

RELATED: Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Forget

I will always remember this brief, shining period when my kids were little and my life was the most beautiful of messes.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jaymi Torrez

Jaymi Torrez blogs at TheSaltyMamas.com with her bestie and blogging partner Christine. She has two small children and a super cool husband. Jaymi dreams of five minutes peace and going to the bathroom alone, but can more often be found holding a two year old on her lap while writing about the ups and downs of parenting.

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

You Gave Him So Much More than a Haircut

In: Child, Motherhood
Baby boy with long hair, color photo

“Thank you for cutting his hair,” I’ve told Emily many times in passing, or lightheartedly over text. I wish I could show her what it actually means in my heart. “I’ll go in by myself,” he says. Instantly, my mind flashes from the achingly handsome 10-year-old standing in front of me to the toddler he once was. I see his 2-year-old self standing before me in our mudroom. Fresh from Kids Cuts, a soggy sticker on his T-shirt that reads “I GOT MY HAIRCUT.” A red and blotchy face from crying, eyes swollen. The buzz cut was the quickest way...

Keep Reading

Having a Late Preterm Baby Is Hard Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

I see you, mama, who holds her breath while they bag your brand-new baby. Asking “is she okay?” and being met with “everything is fine” when you know that everything is not fine. The baby who was due in just a few weeks. The baby, who just a few hours earlier, you joked “wanted to surprise us early.” The baby who was fine on the monitors just minutes before. I see you, mama, when they tell you they are transporting your baby to the NICU. The baby you held for five minutes before they took her to the nursery for...

Keep Reading

You’re Never Alone in the Trenches of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

This one goes out to all the mamas in the trenches. To the mamas in the kitchen stirring dinner with a baby on their hip. To the ones waking up an hour earlier than the rest of the house to pump after waking up countless times throughout the night to attend to both your toddler and baby. The ones who must take care of business from lobbies, bathroom floors, lunch breaks, and the carpool line. To the mamas who pass on their own birthday presents so their kid’s medical bills can be covered. RELATED: This is the Sacrifice of Motherhood...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

A Strong Woman Does Not Always Feel Strong

In: Motherhood
Woman holding baby on beach, color photo

You feel weak, mama, but you are strong  We wear our strength in many forms, barely noticing the feats we accomplish daily.  The strength of a mom can be seen carrying grocery bags from the trunk to the house, upstairs and down again, with a baby strapped to her chest.  The strength of a mom is pushing two kids on swings next to each other while inwardly dealing with a recent miscarriage eating away at her heart. She holds back tears while picturing a newborn in a stroller nearby watching. And the hole deepens. Yet she carries on.  The strength...

Keep Reading