Cleaning the Van

We got her when the second baby came. We were grateful for more space and more freedom and we didn’t mind the signs of wear. She is good to me. “She” because we are carried in her scarred womb and she puts up with the scuffs, the heavy feet, the graceless lumbers to the backseat. She idles while we gird ourselves to wake sleeping children. She sweetly dings her interruptions – gas please! don’t forget to buckle up! She is patient. She is constant. She is steadfast and long suffering. 

And she is clearly an ideal canvas on which to project my maternal agnst.

But truly, I love her. I am proud of her. We got her used so she has a history and I think that’s badass. You do you, momvan. Maybe she used to be a strippervan.

More likely she carted around other families like mine. She was a launchpad for them, too. We all bound forth from her hearth into a world which will not achieve the perfect cabin temperature at our whim and does not make a supremely satisfying click whenever we choose a direction. The world is harsh and click-less and we are ungrateful to our dented up nurturer. Mostly. Sometimes I get away with her and show her a bit of TLC.

I sit in the car wash as I write this after having spent an hour and $5 vacuuming every nook and cranny of her worn grey carpet. I took a comically large hose to ruins of our Fast Food exploits – reviewing the last month or so’s ledger of giving in to the fact that I am still in survival mode with three kids and hot, planned out meals are an albatross. I collected all the Goodwill donations which have been junking her trunk for months and set them aside. I gathered the books and toys my children have dropped or thrown or forgotten. I sorted through the floating papers – old reciepts, meeting notes, lists off the fridge. I tossed handfuls of whatever into the garbage can several times with great satisfaction. 

Then I drove her over to the wash where she is being primped to proper with all kinds of terribly sweet smelling chemicals. The soap foams thick and slides on the window. The high pressure water rinses so completely and she looks a little like her younger days, I’m sure. Even with the dent we didn’t give her and the scratches I am certain we did. 

And as I tried to make her feel pretty with an industrial cleaning device we shared solidarity. Oh yes, we love them. Oh yes, we are glad to do it. But oh how we need this time. I sucked up therapy for $1 per 4 min. I cannot keep up with the three people I brought forth into the world. Getting dressed, keeping the house tidy, eating breakfast are goals now. Goals. Not always accomplished ones either. My four year old told me I do not get enough rest yesterday and my friend’s kid asked what those dark circles under my eyes are. The shadows of my youth and vibrancy, kid. Motherhood. 

So we get a break together and we listen to NPR while we do a ittle self-care and we tell ourselves that the effects of it will last a while even though we know the second we see our little passengers we will once again be overwhelmed with crumbs and noise and knees to the stomach. I will take solace in her front seat while screams and violence to rival Rome’s burning play out in my rear view mirror and we will remember together the smell of the shampoo and the hum of the vacuum. We’ll grab a coffee at a drive-thru and I’ll toss the free lollipops to the back while I crank up the broken radio and nestle in. Ding! We got this, Momma!

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