Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Evolution of the Automobile

Although we say it will never happen, when we become mothers pieces of ourselves slowly disappear. Some things are more subtle byproducts of motherhood, like a shorter, less high maintenance hair cut. Others are outward signs, neon signs that scream I AM A MOTHER!!!

The minivan is one of the latter.

Yes indeed, my friends, I was an "I will never drive a minivan" woman. I was fully prepared to expand my brood and purchase a large, gas guzzling seven passenger SUV that I struggle to park without hitting something. But when that time came that a larger vehicle was necessary, gas was $4 a gallon, and I was realistic in my ability to fit that SUV into the Publix parking lot, and both my wallet and my liberal side took over on the issue of fuel economy.

So a minivan mom I became. I conceded to the ranks only with the stipulation that I got a fully loaded van. It made me feel better that if I was making a concession, as least I could have a man in the dashboard telling me where to turn right while the kids watched Elmo in the backseat. And it's not so bad. The power rear lift gate is quite a convenience. I love the sliding doors. It's great that I can open them with the remote and the boys can easily climb in since it's lower to the ground than an SUV. The doors are also useful when some jerk parks too close to you and you're trying to squeeze an infant seat into the car. But I digress.

The main downside? You can never go incognito. When you drive a car, if you're out without your kids people don't automatically know you're a mother. When you drive a minivan it's a constant label, for better or for worse. Sometimes it's nice to go out and be a person, a woman, and not just a mom.

And then I encountered the ultimate reminder of my past. I was out at the grocery store, alone, with the minivan. As I walked towards my car, there it was. Parked next to the ol' minivan was the exact same car I drove before I had kids. A beautiful white two door Mercedes. It was my first brand new car and I loved it as much as you can love an inanimate object without being committed to an insane asylum. I was shocked at the flood of emotions I had upon seeing that car.

When Mason was born, obviously two doors wouldn't suit me any longer. We traded the Mercedes in for a family friendly Grand Cherokee. I was a little miffed because it was Rey who wanted the Grand Cherokee (being the Jeep man that he is) and I wasn't too involved in the selection process. I was three weeks post-partum with my first child, and any first time mom thinks she's engrossed in the hardest job ever (ha! wait until you have baby #2, or better yet#3!). Basically, at that point I didn't really care.

As I drove the Mercedes for that last time to take it to the dealer to trade it in, I was a little sad, and I tried to remember my freedom and freeze the love I had for it in my mind. But in reality, I was too tired to be sad, and all I could think about was getting home and trying to steal away for a nap.

Fast forward three years, through a second baby and on to a third pregnancy. When Lila was on her way, the Jeep had to go. I could only fit two carseats in the backseat and my growing belly was a sure fire sign I would need to get three back there soon enough. There was even less fanfare when I bought the minivan and traded the Jeep in--I left it, signed the papers, and headed home to attack my to do list. What car I drove was officially a utility instead of a representation of my personality.

Seeing that Mercedes in the parking lot brought back a lot of memories and a long bout of nostalgia. I thought about how I used to wear adorable high heels to work and was never seen in public without lipstick and a coat of Chanel lip gloss. I could almost taste the lunches I would have at restaurants with my coworkers. I thought about how when I drove around town I could crank up my tunes so loud my eardrums would almost burst, and I recalled how those tunes were not the Wiggles, or "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain."

The reality is that the car was just a car. It can give me hugs, or draw me stick figure pictures. Flip flops are far more comfortable than heels. And maybe I don't get to choose the music, but I do get a personal concert daily via my two little rock stars! Sometimes sacrifices are met with a great reward.

The car was just a car, and the minivan is just a minivan. Chapters in life result in things that are always changing. One day I will move on from the minivan chapter. And maybe I'll see one in a parking lot somewhere and miss it as much as I'm missing that white Mercedes.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I love what you said here! And while I never drove a Mercedes (and actually drove a minivan in high school - remember that?) I totally get what you're saying. I love going out in Keith's truck because we're not the mom & dad when we're in it...we're just out together. But I think one day, when all the kids are gone and I don't need it anymore, I'll really miss my minivan.