Whether or not you have a the ultimate mom-mobile—the mini-van—or some other vehicle, one thing is for sure: after you have children your ride is never the same. Remember having a car that just looked good and drove well and that was enough? Remember blasting music and singing along with your favorite song? Remember when you just drove around just to drive around? Surely you remember driving with a friend and just chatting without being interrupted? Remember when you might have just a gym bag in the trunk? Or perhaps your trunk held a cute outfit that you kept in there just in case you might spontaneously need to look cute? Remember when you would drive by yourself without worrying that you were late getting to daycare/school/home to make dinner? There were those days when the weather was perfect and you would open the window, put on your sunglasses, and just be happy in all the wonderfulness of driving your own car? Awww, those were the days!
Once you become a mom, however, that stuff changes. Now buying a mom-mobile requires thinking of totally different factors. Now you must be an adult. I remember, vaguely, the days before I knew what child locks were. Those days are gone. Does the vehicle have the latest safety features for that car seat? Don’t forget to check if there is a spot where you can change that diaper when you are on the run. Can the stroller/baseball equipment/tuba fit in the back? Is your mom-mobile efficient enough to endure aimless drives in the middle of the night in hopes that baby will sleep, and many, many treks to the closest 24-hour pharmacy? Can that vehicle take the toll of constant carpool idling, soccer mom travel to games every weekend, and frequent trips to see the grandparents? Can it hold that bicycle rack or that extra kid who somehow always materializes? Are those seats easy to clean or at least dark enough to hide some serious stains?
Now your car stereo is not even your own. Now it matters what you listen to. The complete freedom of listening to a song or radio station of your preference is gone. Shouldn’t you be playing some classical music? Adjust the volume in case that baby decides to sleep. Or you might have that CD that your precious preschooler wants you to play over and over and over and over. Now you have to worry if what you listen to is appropriate…which might mean actually listening to the words and figuring out the lyrics. The last thing you want is your little lovely belting out “those” lyrics at your local grocery store. Give that precious one a few more years and you won’t have a chance at all. It’s a given that that teen will probably hate the music you love. Try to sing along to one of your favorites and get ready for those exaggerated groans that only talented teens can muster.
Sure, you might still have that gym bag in the trunk, but now it’s smushed underneath the stroller. Hey, there’s a chance that those workout clothes might even fit! But now you probably have a few different necessities in your mom-mobile… After a few diaper blowouts and those special spit-up moments, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll need a change of clothes—for your little one, of course. As an afterthought, throw in a shirt for yourself. Don’t worry about it being cute. If it fits, it’s good. And don’t forget to always carry some wipes. From diaper changes to sticky toddler fingers to Crayola marker marks to sweaty middle-schooler faces, wipes have been a necessity in my car for the 12 years I’ve been a mom. If you are always heading out to a playdate/game/class/practice, etc., a non-melting snack is a good idea. Aim for something healthy, but in a pinch those mints from various restaurants or an extra lollipop from some random goody bag have been known to work. A towel may come in handy. It can be used as a quick picnic tablecloth, umbrella, blanket, or for really big clean-up jobs—you know, those.
Now when you have that rare moment when just you and a friend are driving somewhere, you have to apologize for your car. Sorry about the Cheerios and raisins in the back seat. Is the handle sticky? I have a wipe for that. Does the car smell funny? Hmmm, it might be that sippy cup that fell beneath the seat and has been baking in the heat ever since. Sorry that the front seat is moved up so far that no one could possibly sit there—I just got tired of my toddler kicking the seat so hard that I thought there was some sort of natural disaster happening. Sorry about the dry mud under your feet—that is from my middle-schooler, who doesn’t understand why he should walk around that patch of mud before he gets into the car.
But, hey, want to listen to the radio and sing along with me?