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The Mother Ship

Kathryn Thompson

I sat down to type a deep post about all my feelings on motherhood as we creep up on this day of days, the holiday where we celebrate our awesomeness and the awesomeness of the mothers before us.  I like Mother’s Day and I love being a mother but all I can think about right now is my broken down mini-van.  Somehow I think the two are connected.

Tonight I drove 20 minutes to the Toyota dealership with the side door of my van stuck open.  The wind whipped my hair and my hands froze on the steering wheel and I politely smiled and nodded at gawkers and people who yelled, “YOUR DOOR IS OPEN!”  Luckily no crap came spilling out of the open door as I drove, not because my car isn’t generally full of crap, but because I had quickly gathered it all up and shoved it into a large reusable grocery bag so as to trick the mechanics into thinking it doesn’t exist.

However, I’m pretty sure they’ll figure out the truth if they have eyes.  There is masking tape ground into the carpet, crayon bits under the seats, sticky things where sticky things should not be, and more than a few finger smudges on the insides of the windows.  No matter how often I clean it, the van is gross.  Because of this, I clean it less than I should but more than I want to.

There are days when I want to light a match and start over with a new car, maybe an SUV or really anything cooler than a mini-van.  I think about alternative wheels, especially on days when the magic doors are less than magic and I’m driving 45 miles per hour with one side of the vehicle open. 

And then I remember two things.  One – there is not a car in the world hot enough to not look like a mom mobile once my kids have ridden in it for a week.  Two – we rented a car with non-sliding doors once and no matter how many times we asked and begged the kids to open the doors slowly and carefully, we spent that vacation leaving notes on people’s windshields, apologizing for the dings we left in their car doors.  My kids need to slide out of vehicles, not explode. 

Now if I’d never had kids, I would never have found myself duct-taping plastic sheeting to the side of my van because I never would have purchased a van and if I had, it never would have broken.  I’m not sure how the broken door is directly the kids’ fault but I’m sure it is somehow.  Maybe they filled the track with snails or pulled on the handle too hard.  It’s possible that all those times I tried to shut it and they pushed the button to open it over and over again because it was hilarious, the gears and pulleys did not think it was so funny.

I’m not sure.  But it’s Mother’s Day week and my mother ship is in the shop.  And things don’t look good.  I hear it’s pretty expensive to rescue one of these magic doors and the car is not exactly on its first legs.  So we’re faced with the question, do we abandon ship and look for a new home for our collection of socks, goldfish crackers and used lollipop sticks?  Or do we cough up the gazillion dollars to keep her on the road?  I guess I need to decide what kind of Mother’s Day present I want.  Do I want the kind that comes with the familiar grime and quirks or the kind that’s accompanied by a huge new monthly payment? 

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