Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A family's life on wheels

I BRAKE FOR MOMS | By Jennifer Bardsley
In a rare incidence of crooked parking, my husband was backing out and reparking our SUV at the Old Spaghetti Factory last night when our 2-year-old daughter piped up from the backseat: “Mommy does this all the time.”
My husband of course, thought this was hysterical and chose to relay our daughter's observation about my parking skills to his entire family as soon as we sat down at the table. Everyone but my mother-in-law and I thought it was funny.
The driver's ed program I completed in high school never prepared me for driving with children. First of all, there's the constant running dialogue to either engage in or ignore. My daughter dreamily mentions, “Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to be a princess firefighter who takes care of babies,” while my son shouts out “YELLOW CAR” every time one passes. It's amazing that I can focus on the road and still manage to load the next Kindermusik CD.
Another problem that comes with driving around children is that since every time we pull into our driveway I have to unload a 2-year-old, groceries and my purse, not much else makes it out of our car. My front seat is littered with a Kleenex box, the Ergo Baby Carrier, a golf umbrella, and a pair of extra “just in case” 2T underwear. The back seat is crammed with car seats, a few stuffed animals, half a dozen little white socks, and Pokemon cards scattered across the floor. At least my car doesn't smell.
In my defense, my car may have been “mommed” but I am a good driver with a clean record of safety. The only ticket I have ever received was from a nanny-cam in Lynnwood when I drove 25 mph past Meadowdale High School when no children were present. Oh, and I also once knocked off my side mirror when I hit the recycling can in our garage, but should that really count? My husband moved that can over 6 inches. Really, he did!
Some of the most difficult driving any adult will ever face is during morning drop-off and pick-up at your child's school. The parking lot is a zoo of buses, cars, teachers wearing whistles, children on foot, children jumping out of cars, rain, and my son freaking out because he forgot to wear shoes. (Luckily, there are always three pairs for him to choose from floating around our back seat.)
One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 was to take better care of my car so that my husband would stop teasing me. So now, when my piggy bank from Glazed and Amazed fills up with loose change, I take out all of the quarters and head to Clearwater Car Wash in Lynnwood. Vacuuming out the back seat of my car feels really good, and my daughter never snitches on me when I dump her brother's Pokemon cards in the trash.
Sometimes a clean car feels like a new car. But as my husband points out, even if I had a new car it wouldn't stay very clean for long.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at
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