There is a squished spider corpse dangling from the inside of my car windshield. I don’t know how long it has been there. Not because I don’t know when the time of death took place, but because I’ve lost track of the number of days it’s been a fellow passenger of ours. The burial service is past due. And a cleaning of my vehicle is so long overdue, if it were a library book I’d be banned from the library by now.

When my husband removed his hat one evening while driving and used it as a spider swatter, he said he’d leave it there as a warning to all other insects. I know it was a joke, but it might just have worked. I have yet to see another bug in my car since. And trust me, there are plenty of snacks in there to entice them.

RELATED: My Car May Be Messy But My Life is Beautiful

In addition to spider guts on my windshield, there is also dried fajita meat juice on one of the back passenger seats from when I picked up restaurant food for my husband’s 50th birthday. He crossed over the hill weeks ago. The splatters pair nicely with the dried hot cocoa streaks down the back of the driver’s seat. We’re not even in hot cocoa season anymore.

I’m afraid to look any further into the deep recesses of my car. I don’t ride back there. Out of sight, out of mind. Until I’m searching for the Amazon return I tossed back there on the floorboard. And then I want to box up the whole car and return it as well.

How in the name of all that is clean, did I get to this point? When did I reach the petrified-car-spider stage of motherhood? 

Even bringing these words to the light of day, goes against my type-A personality. There was a time in my life that I religiously washed my car inside and out every single weekend. Now I have to put everything in my lists app on my phone or it won’t get done. This brain is getting full and I need a second one as a backup, but for now, I’m glad there’s an app for that. Apparently, I need to add “dead spider removal” to my list. Maybe I’ll get to it next week. 

I know there are different seasons of motherhood, and life in general, and many of them are busy ones. But this current one is just plain full. And all of a sudden I feel old. I saw two moms pushing their babies in strollers as they walked my neighborhood the other day, and I felt a sudden pang in my heart. I’m far removed from stroller days, but I felt a strange sense of loss. When was the moment my mom-life switched from pushing my kids to being pulled in all directions? 

RELATED: The Most Exhausted You Will Ever Be Is Not When You Have Infants and Toddlers. It’s This.

But as much as my type-A self would love a clean car, I’ve slowly realized that some things don’t have to be a priority right now. Certain things can take a backseat, food stains and all, to the more pressing needs of my family. Rides to and from the soccer fields, piano, play practices, and friends’ houses are all on the transportation list. But more importantly, that old dirty vehicle is transporting my kids to church each week. Deep conversations and loud crazy singing are taking place as we shuttle around town. And spoiler alertthe crumbs, smears, and spiders don’t hinder any of it. 

I know the day will come far too soon that those kids won’t need me quite as much. They won’t be as impressionable anymore. My brain and my calendar won’t be as full. And I’ll be looking at messy cars wondering how and when I arrived at the clean-car stage of motherhood.

So, perhaps I’ll let that spider hang out a little longer. Maybe start a trend like those retro fuzzy dice. No, not really. I’ll be cleaning soon. But I’ll remember that squished arachnid as a warning, not to other insects, but to this mom. A reminder to squash the guilt, the self-inflicted pressure, and even some of the unnecessary busyness. To wipe away any comparison, or looking back or skipping ahead. To keep priorities at the top of the list, and clean when I can. And be thankful for this season when my brain may be full but my heart is even fuller.

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Christen McKey

Christen McKey writes, mothers, and joyfully camps, often all at the same time. She shares about the world of camping in her children’s book, The Joyful Camper, available on Amazon. Christen also utilizes her communication skills at a non-profit Christian ministry. When she’s not traveling to state parks with her family and logging camping details for her website VirginiaisforCampers.com, she enjoys time at home in Virginia with her husband, kids, and mountain dog.  @christen.mckey @wordycamper

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