Mom mo­bile ad­ven­tures

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

My mom mo­bile is get­ting rather clut­tered.

The trusty Toy­ota I’ve been driv­ing since col­lege — back when she was but a shiny toy, fresh from the lot with that won­der­ful new car smell — has served me well, but I can’t shake the feel­ing that our days to­gether are num­bered.

Not be­cause she’s slow­ing down or any­thing. I mean, this car is a tank — and with less than 130,000 miles, I know she has a lot of life left in her. My first Corolla, a hand-me-down from my dad, eas­ily passed 200,000 miles and would have kept chug­ging if not for a worn trans­mis­sion, the re­place­ment of which would have cost more than the old girl was worth. As I was also get­ting ready to start com­mut­ing to Col­lege Park, it was time for some­thing more road-wor­thy.

But friends, that first car was a beaut. She served the fami- ly well. The red paint job had faded to a princess-wor­thy pink by the time I in­her­ited her, but that was noth­ing a few cow print seat cov­ers couldn’t spruce up. I re­mem­ber sit­ting in my par­ents’ drive­way with a pack of Ar­mor All wipes, clean­ing every nook and cranny the sum­mer I got my learner’s per­mit. It was enough to know I could take her out on the road . . . I just didn’t nec­es­sar­ily want to.

Later, with more con­fi­dence, I drove the wheels off the Red Bomb through high school and my first year of col­lege. Be­cause my car was so dis­tinc- tive-look­ing, she was tough to lose in park­ing lots — a plus. And once equipped with a work­ing CD player, she was per­fect for blast­ing early John Mayer, ’NSYNC and Han­son. The Bomb was re­li­able un­til that last gasp be­fore do­na­tion, a qual­ity I ap­pre­ci­ate even more as an adult.

When that Corolla died, we got a sec­ond one. I re­mem­ber go­ing with my par­ents to a lot near Bal­ti­more just be­fore Christ­mas, my dad ad­vis­ing me to “choose wisely” be­cause, if I took care of the ve­hi­cle, some­day I could be cruis­ing around with my own kid in the back­seat.

A mom mo­bile? Right. At 19, the idea of rig­ging up a car seat was laugh­able. And yet, 12 years later, here we are: still driv­ing the Toy­ota, just now with my lit­tle pas­sen­ger. It’s hard to re­mem­ber what it was like to not have a car seat back there. And soon there will be two. The tran­si­tion from new­ly­weds to new par­ents wasn’t seam­less, as I’ve shared many times — and one of the un­ex­pected chal­lenges of hav­ing a child was the sud­den lack of space in our ve­hi­cles. Both my hus­band and I drive sedans usu­ally filled with clutter, and a baby brings a great deal of new stuff into your life.

I was good for a while. I ac­tu­ally cleaned out my trunk, a gather­ing place for ran­dom stuff I’ve never known what to do with but some­how couldn’t get rid of: old col­lege text­books; bro­ken um­brel­las; win­ter gear I never wear, but some­how think I need. The trunk also had the req­ui­site emer­gency kit (com­plete with flares), jumper ca­bles and a spare tire. Very adult of me.

When baby Oliver ar­rived, the trunk also be­came home to things like an un­gainly fold-up stroller and over­flow­ing di­a­per bag. I was re­sis­tant to clean­ing out the trunk to ac­tu­ally make room for these baby items be­cause, in my lazi­ness, it seemed “eas­ier” to just jam them in with the ran­dom junk than ac­tu­ally, you know . . . go through and get rid of said junk.

I wised up even­tu­ally. And can I just say how free­ing it was to have a use­able trunk for the first time in my life? I still find my­self re­vert­ing to bad habits, want­ing to stuff it full of what I can’t part with, but even that is get­ting harder.

Lo­gis­ti­cally, there’s just no room.

On an er­rand day we might run out to both Tar­get and the gro­cery store, stock­ing up on bulky di­a­per boxes and fami- ly-sized packs of chicken, life gets in­ter­est­ing. Fit­ting every- thing into half the back­seat and the trunk of my Corolla re­quires ad­vanced Tetris-level plan­ning. Spencer has had to ride home with bags and boxes in his lap.

And when we’re buy­ing home im­prove­ment sup­plies like wood? For­get it. Spence has ac­tu­ally had to drive home to un­load and come back for me later. I used that time to get in some steps on the ol’ Fit­bit, pac­ing the store for 40 min­utes. (Which worked out well, ac­tu­ally. Ex­cept for the whole “look­ing weird and sus­pi­cious” thing.)

There’s an easy solution to this, of course: a big­ger ve­hi­cle. But those re­quire funds. With both of our cars cur­rently paid off, I’m re­sis­tant to tak­ing on more debt as we take on a sec­ond baby . . . and all the di­a­pers and day­care that will ac­com­pany her.

Still, it’s some­thing to con­sider. As it stands, it’s tough to imag­ine hav­ing enough room to trans­port a sin­gle tooth­brush with two car seats and all the ac­com­pa­ny­ing baby gear in the trunk.

But we’ll find a way — for awhile, at least. Un­til it makes us com­pletely crazy.

With er­rant snacks, strewn toys and empty cof­fee cups lit­ter­ing every sur­face, the Sil­ver Bomb’s tran­si­tion to mom mo­bile will be com­plete. And hon­estly? That makes me proud.

A few more ad­ven­tures await.

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