To the critic of a man who judged the interior of my unkempt van:
There is no way in hell you would ever let (like you have say) your car look or smell like this. Nor, would you ever allow (excuse me, I just vomited, so maybe that’s the stench you’re smelling) your wife wreck a family vehicle.
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Shame on me!
Apparently I am as revolting as my car for giving less attention to a mode of transportation than to living, breathing human beings within my guardianship.
Well, you know what, you jackalope? And yes, that is a derogatory term; it is the child-appropriate version of jackass, which I can’t use because (ahem) those havoc-wreckers are in proximity.
You see, this “mom-mobile” looks like it does because nobody else willingly transports MY CHILDREN in their car. When they do ride with anyone else, it is because I have bribed that person with money or my eternal fondness. Coincidentally, while with others, my children are seemingly well-fed and happy because yours truly has met each of their never-ending list of needs prior to departure.
When they ride with me, Mr. Judgment, they are worn-out from school and stress-eating because they are anxious about after-school activities. Often times, they are emotional from the day’s social encounters and thrilled to be back into the care of their one and only birther and guess what happens then? Guess what it is that fatigued, HANGRY, fevered, over-stimulated, and high-keyed young children do in a car?
They make a freakin’ mess.
They make a damn wreckage with everything within their grasp or a foothold — food, markers, papers, hair ties, yesterday’s chocolate cookie and their bloody band-aid they ripped off — anything and everything you can ponder up with a coat of boogers on top.
While you like to tout the untidy and admittedly disgusting van as being a signal of lazy parenting, I can assure you that my mothering is anything but bone-idle.
Apathetic parenting is not me driving our children all over Timbuktu.
Lackadaisical parenting is not me driving our children all over Timbuktu, back home and then back to Timbuktu because little Johnny forgot his favorite Paw Patrol toy or because Sally wanted to bring her hot pink pen, not the light rose one.
Lazy is not me feeding the children in the car to keep the peace. This is indeed a matter of survival — mine, not theirs.
It is not me being indifferent by refusing to take my car to a car wash. I get enough random side-eye, judgmental looks and glances from you and the other parents at drop-off, that I don’t need to subject myself to the mumbled off-hand comments from the young guys at the corner Wash & Shine.
You say shame on me? I say shame on you.
Shame on you, MY HUSBAND, for not driving the kids around more.
Oh, what? You work?
Then shame on you for judging how I choose to work and on how I maintain my vehicle, which let me make clear to you, is from a place of utter exhaustion, confusion, and depletion. It is also from the kind and admirable place hidden inside of me where I am merely keeping from losing my shiitake while everyone else in the car is either figuratively or literally (yep, happens all the time) losing theirs.
Sorry Bud, but this is your life; you have a wife that keeps her car as messy as the thoughts in her head.
In the future, why don’t you go ahead and describe the family car as “coated in love,” as that more accurately describes its current (and all the time) state.
This post originally appeared on Scary Mommy.