When we moved to the suburbs from Manhattan, we had like many other New Yorkers our City Car. It was old, it was dented, it was scraped, it was dirty. But none of this mattered, these were all the scars of a life well-lived in New York City, of fitting into spaces that should have been way too small, proof of the trafficy trips we’d taken to beaches, hiking trails, and the much-appreciated airport pick-ups when out-of-town guests came to visit us.
Once we got to the suburbs, our City Car didn’t look so good anymore. What once had appeared well-worn, now looked worn-out. We initially scoffed at people with their oversized SUVs, and even more-so, we couldn’t believe some people had the audacity to own two cars. We couldn’t imagine needing more than one car, but within weeks we couldn’t imagine how we had lived that long with just the one.
We were also about to have our third kid, so we decided that yes, we would become yet another suburban family with the gigantic SUV. And a few weeks later I was happily driving around in my seats-seven SUV. And I loved my new car.
But with the arrival of the SUV came a promise to myself that this new car would stay beautiful and pristine. I would not have one of those Mommy-mobiles filled with discarded dirty napkins, half-empty juice boxes, dirty sports equipment and spare ballet slippers. No, my car was going to stay as nice as it was the day I got it.
The other moms laughed when I said I had a no eating or drinking rule in the car. But the kids in carpool complied, and my own children didn’t know anything different, and happily followed the rules of no eating at all, and only water for drinking. My husband was less compliant – insisting we had to let them eat on long trips. Absolutely not, I’d respond, we can stop and eat like civilized people.
Every weekend I would dutifully clean out everything that had piled-up in the car, put it into its rightful place in our house, and restore the car to its original state of clean. Twice a month I got it professionally washed, and I always had it serviced right on schedule.
And then the easy-going baby became a toddler. And the rules fell-apart. His toys took over the car. I let him drink milk in the car, and spill it all over everything. I let him eat, and then to be fair, I let everyone else eat too. I found a great take-out deli, and I became the cars own worst enemy, eating a messy over-stuffed sub many days on my way to get the kids from school.
The transition to toddlerhood also meant the once delightful mother-son trips to the car wash went from effortless to labored, and quickly, ceased. The toddler’s toys, and books, and spare snacks took over most of the back seat. So, to be fair, I allowed my older elementary-school aged girls to start keeping things in the car as well. They referred to the third row as their apartment and set-up a shelf of books, a bin of toys, a clothes closet and a (fully stocked) kitchen.
And me, I gave up. I now drive the same Mommy-mobile as all my friends. It’s dirty, cluttered, and filled with random things from basketballs to ice skates to the freebies we got on our trip to Six Flags last summer. I can’t say I’ve learned to love my Mommy-mobile more than my Clean-mobile, but I do accept it as the way things are going to be. At least until my kids drive cars of their own.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Anna found all of the things in the photo above (and more!) when she most recently cleaned-out her Mommy-mobile. When not trying to keep a clean car, she blogs about all things mom at Random Handprints. You can also find her on Twitter @RandomHandprint. Anna is a New Jersey mom.