Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Minivan Meltdown

A mama lives a great deal of her life in the car. Taxi season is unavoidable unless you’re a hermit, so you can fight it or you can learn to make the most of it – those are the only two choices.
Last Friday in carpool line craziness, my kindergartener decided it would be a great idea to open a golf umbrella right behind my head. Trying desperately to close it while avoiding a car accident with a fellow parent proved challenging.
Later I realized that somehow my son had managed to break the locking mechanism required to close the umbrella. Not aware of this at the time however, I yanked it closed again and again to no avail while the carpool monitor stared at me quizzically through the windshield.
I could feel the tension growing in the line, now stopped dead, while I got out of the car (umbrella first) on a beautiful sunny day and continued my efforts. Finally, exasperated, I opened the hatch and violently stuffed the open umbrella into the back of the van in full view of the watching world.
Oh sure, I plastered a smile over my frustration and joked with the carpool monitor, but we all know what the parking lot was thinking. “Crazy mama at twelve o’clock.” If you were there, I apologize.
Of course most days aren’t quite that crazy, but the close quarters in my minivan tend to be a constant motherhood challenge.
It really started about two years ago when we began spending an hour in the car together picking everybody up from school.
I just never know who’s getting in my car on any given day. I pick up the same kiddos, but it’s impossible to know which of multiple personalities will be joining us for taxi time.
Sometimes the motor mouth pops in the door – he/she is one of my favorites. I don’t have to ask any questions about the day. The mouth just keeps spilling, hardly coming up for air, until happily exhausted, it comes to a stop.
Other days the grouch climbs in, the effort a strain, schlepping the backpack in the door along with a foul attitude. Everybody in the van should give the grouch a wide berth, knowing the tiniest irritation may cause an eruption on the scale of Mount Vesuvius, wiping out everyone in its path.
Some days, what I call the water balloon rolls in, shoulders slumped, eyes downcast, about to burst. Barely making it until the door slides shut, the balloon pops and the tears pour out. I love water balloon too. When he/she gets in the car, my chest squeezes tight as I listen to disappointment or hurt and then have the privilege of ministering comfort and consolation.
And then there’s the combination of any of these and a number of others I haven’t taken time to describe.  For instance, check out this formula: motor mouth + grouch = recipe for minivan disaster.
My role in the minivan is varied. I am referee, counselor, comforter, disciplinarian, coach, nurse, cheerleader, teacher. Yes, I am minivan mama.
At first, I resented the time that my minivan stole from me – stole from my family. I wished for the homey comfort of my kitchen and den, and for wide open spaces to separate my kids when necessary.
But I am learning that minivan time with my children is precious time, because I am a captive audience for my kiddos. In the van, there are no dishes, no laundry, no distractions, no other responsibilities.
I alone determine whether to be fully engaged in that taxi time so pregnant with the potential of truly knowing my children, listening to their hearts, and loving them with my undivided attention. When I choose to make the most of minivan moments, seemingly insignificant daily trips combine over time to form one amazing family journey.
Maybe this is what Honda had in mind when they named my van. Odyssey – (def) any long, adventurous, epic voyage of discovery.
"Blessed are those who set their hearts on the journey." Psalm 84.5b


Canadian Bird said...

LOVE this, Daph! Reminds me of the many van (we didn't have a mini) moments growing up as the oldest of five, & frequently the pseudo-chauffeur to allow my own mama her precious sanity. :) xo

Daphne Fine said...

Yep! For me it was the station wagon! And we both had amazing mamas in the driver's seat! Love you friend!!