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What’s the worst thing you’ve ever found in your car?

Alex got in my car the other day and said, “Dad says your car is a junk bus, mom.” And if I’m being completely honest with you, he’s right. There are a few things you should know about me: I make my bed before I go downstairs in the morning. I can’t leave the house if there’s a dish in the sink. I get on my hands and knees to wipe up crumbs from my kitchen floor several times a day. In other words, I am not a slob. But when it comes to my car, well, I let things slide. A lot of things. Over the weekend I helped my sister pick up some trees and in order to do so had to take out the kids’ seats and flip down the back seats. D’oh! Let’s just say you could have fed a family of five with the amount of food I found in there. It gets worse. Here, in no particular order, is what was discovered in my car:


Two damp towels in the way back, several crunched up veggie chips (the round ones and the long ones), Cherrios, edamame (both in the pod and out) half a polly-o string cheese, two sippy cups, six of Nora’s hairclips, two pairs of Alex’s flip-flops, a sundress of mine, Mater, Lightning McQueen, Doc, a baby doll (I found this when I flipped up the middle seat and it scared the shit out of me), ATM receipts, junk mail, empty water bottles, a Dunkin Donut’s straw, three crayons, two of Alex’s art projects (complete with glitter), two life jackets, beach pails, an incident report from Alex’s school (there was a scratching fight, apparently) and a pile of dry-cleaning I have yet to drop off and a Christmas ornament I’d bought for my mom and never gave her (this was wedged way down—it’s not like I haven’t cleaned since December).


Some of this stuff I was aware of, some of it was a shock. I will say that there was nothing living in there and no foul or mysterious odors but still. It’s a little embarrassing (what if someone had asked me for a ride somewhere?!) I used to literally turn up my nose when I got in my sister Melissa’s car. There was always crumbs and clothes and kid crap that didn’t belong covering every surface. I couldn’t believe that someone could drive a car that looked like that. Well, I am now that person. I drive a large SUV but it is one that’s meant to be lived in (i.e., it’s not a Porshe Cayenne, or any other car that would send me into cardiac arrest if a little coffee got spilled in it). And it’s a few years old. I feed my kids snacks while we’re driving sometimes. I throw stuff in the back when we’re heading out and forget to unload it. I wasn’t always like this but I’m a busy, working mom with kids who require hands-on attention so cleaning out my car is not the first thing I think of when I pull into my driveway. (I also don’t obsess as much about the state of my car, as I mentioned above).


This is a major point of contention between Nick and me. He has a few things that really bother him in life and a messy car is one of them. And I’m not overplaying that. He brings it up a lot. And I get very defensive. Here’s a direct quote of mine from a recent spat: “Do I not do all the laundry and keep the house picked up and cook awesome dinners and make good money and am I not a pretty damn good wife?! Let me have this effed up car, please and don’t bring it up again!!!”


Clearly I have issues. Right now my car is spotless (Nick and Alex vacuumed it for me on Sunday) and I’d love to keep it that way but I’m also a realist. Please tell me I’m not the only mom who drives a junk bus. What does your car look like? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever found in there? And if you’re one of those clean car people, please share your secret!