Not quite van land

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

I’ve spent the last nine months wrestling with . . . stuff. Car seats. Strollers. Over­flow­ing di­a­per bags. Heavy di­a­per boxes. Pack­ages of wipes, tow­ers of baby food jars, laun­dry — so much laun­dry — dragged down the hall.

And now, with my spir­ited son reach­ing the 23-pound mark, I’m wrestling with him. Florida al­li­ga­tor-style. Oliver tries to claw his way out of my arms con­stantly, so I must cling to him as he fends me off. (Pretty sure he does like me? Hard to say.)

The strug­gle re­ally comes not in­side the home, but as we’re leav­ing it: when I have one or all of those things to drag to the car. So . . . ev­ery day, ba­si­cally.

My trusty ve­hi­cle — a no-non­sense sedan — has served me quite well over the last decade. It ar­rived in 2003 as trust­wor­thy trans­porta­tion for my daily col­lege com­mute. Be­fore then, I was rolling in an early-’90s Toy­ota Corolla that even­tu­ally faded from vi­brant red to vin­tage pink. And I to­tally in­sisted on cow print seat cov­ers.

Some­times I am a mys­tery . . . even to my­self. When my par­ents, sis­ter and I trekked up to a Bal­ti­more deal­er­ship, a sales­man friend of my dad’s took us around the lot. Though we ar­rived with a plan, it never hurts to look at op­tions.

“Think care­fully,” Dad said, re­mind­ing me that I’d likely have this Toy­ota — yay, re­li­able Toy­otas! — for the long haul. “Some­day you could be driv­ing your baby around in this.”

At 18, the idea of hav­ing a child was . . . murky at best. Heck, even as I stared — par­a­lyzed, quite frankly — at a pos­i­tive preg­nancy test, it was crazy. But sure enough, 12 years later, I peek at my son in that back­seat ev­ery morn­ing.

And then? Then I feel like the roof is cav­ing in on me.

Sun­day was a prime ex­am­ple. By the time my hus­band and I loaded Oliver, his di­a­per bag, a stroller, the big Boppy cart cover, at least five bags of gro­ceries, a can of paint and var­i­ous other bits and baubles from the home im­prove­ment store into my car, I had to suck in my stom­ach. There was barely room for air.

As we strug­gled to shove a case of bot­tled wa­ter into the al­ready-packed trunk, the words just flew from my mouth.

“You know,” I said, “this is when a mini­van would be nice.”

Just like that, dark­ness fell around me: a tiny tor­nado of adult­hood I should have seen com­ing, friends . . . but I missed the wail­ing sirens. A mini­van. My mom drove — and still drives — a mini­van. Lots of fam­i­lies have mini­vans. They’re com­fort­able, con­ve­nient . . . and ac­tu­ally lux­u­ri­ous. Be­fore we even an­nounced my preg­nancy in 2014, my mother-in-law had pur­chased one her­self. (“For haul­ing my quilt­ing sup­plies,” she said, but c’mon: I saw that grand­baby glint in her eye.)

When I got into a car ac­ci­dent sev­eral years back, Mom loaned me her van dur­ing the re­pairs. And that old boy? Still plenty of power left in him. I was im­pressed.

But vans, how­ever prac­ti­cal, have a . . . stigma. They’re a tan­gi­ble mark of tran­si­tion, a cross­ing-over: from young and free to (de­light­fully, though tiredly) en­cum­bered. Plus? They’re ex­pen­sive. Though I’m not quite ready to buy a one-way ticket to Mama’s Van Land, I’m imag­in­ing what life with­out a com­pact car — es­pe­cially with­out my sweet cas­sette tape player — might look like.

A lot less huff­ing and puff­ing. And I’ll be shocked at the new tech­nol­ogy, I’m sure.

It’ll be a little like be­ing dropped in from . . . well, from 2003.

Hold on a sec­ond: just need to grab my Hanson CDs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.