Thursday, June 2, 2011

A car is a mom's sanctuary

Today I did something I have never done before. Got my car washed. I don't mean that I have been driving an unwashed car all these years. I've been extremely spoiled and my husband has always hand-washed it for me. But today I went through a car wash. One of those automatic ones where your car rolls along and giant sponges close in on you darkening the windows. It was a tad scary. Not scared of the dark scary, just that "Yikes, I'm not in control!" scary.

I can see why someone with a pristine, high-end automobile or a classic collector car wouldn't go through an automatic car wash. However, I drive a 7-year-old SUV, not a Ferrari. Auto wash will do just fine for me.

Since a nearby car wash charges only $3, It didn't make sense for me to wait until the weekend and make my husband scrape off the large splattering left by a bird who mistook my vehicle for a target. Once I rolled out of the stall all sparkly, I went over to take advantage of the free vacuums. I like to vacuum my vehicles. It's one chore I don't mind doing, so I don't know why I don't do it more often.

Cleaning it out and vvacuuming it out meant removing magazines with Christmas trees on the cover, DVDs, candy wrappers, happy meal toys, lawn chairs, blankets, papers. I am responsible for some of the contents, but most of it is there because I have five kids that I cart around from place to place.

In between the seat and the wall I found a few homework papers. My son's teacher had let me know he'd been missing some assignments. Here I was checking what was in his folder each night and making sure it was getting done. Now I know the stinker was tucking it away in his hiding spot so I wouldn't know he had homework to do.

It felt so nice to get it decluttered. I love when I can clear things out to the point that a stranger looking inside may not be able to tell that I'm a mom. When they were babies and toddlers, there was no way to disguise it. Toys and contraptions and strollers and sippy cups and books and diaper bags and all that stuff. Now, except for a booster seat, there's no other lingering evidence that kids reside in it every day (except for a couple stubborn stains.)

You can't really do that in your house. Every room has some evidence that kids are nearby - shoes in the hallway, strawberry scented shampoo in the bathroom, fruit snacks in the kitchen, plastic super hero plates n the dining room, toys scattered here and there. I do admire the museum houses with rooms that are free of a spec of dust and full of breakables that children are forbidden from touching. No room in this house and I prefer coziness - even if a little clutter goes along with it.

Back when I had babies and toddlers and was basking in the role of chasing and changing and wiping and feeding, the baby/toddler clutter didn't bother me at all. Now that they are getting older, it's nice to be able to have a pretty clear car and be in it all by myself. I savor 20-minute rides where I can listen to whatever I want without complaint.

I have to add here that a few years ago when all the kids were in the car and bickering and misbehaving, I told them that whenever they started in, I would turn on country music and turn it up so loud I couldn't hear them. Without fail, a few minutes later the bickering began. George Strait went up full blast. They haven't forgotten that day. They still think country music is punishment. One day I was riding along with one of the boys, who was being well-behaved and as quiet as could be. I'm listening to some Toby Keith on US99 - the Chicago country music station. He says to me in a sweet, innocent voice "Mom, I haven't done anything wrong. I'm not being bad. Why are you listening to country music?" LOL!

Once I'm in the car alone, though...after I leave the drop-off lane at school in the morning, when I'm on my way to work, when I'm running errands, It's so peaceful. Most days...who am I kidding?....every day, whisking off on a private jet or taking a jaunt on a private beach or slipping off for a morning of massage and nail painting are not in the cards, so a few quiet moments in my SUV is all I have. And I do enjoy them.

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