Top 5 ways to make your minivan stand out

Since it has been about 1,000 degrees here in good old Northern California, the kids and I decided ice cream was the only thing we could do to survive.

We got our cones and hopped back in the van. Before I turned on the AC and jetted on our way, there were several tasty drips needing my full attention.

Suddenly the side door of the van was opened and there stood a very frazzled looking mom with two fussing toddlers. It took her about five awkward seconds, shoving one such toddler actually into the van, before she realized she had the wrong van.

We all laughed.

The mom lugged her precious little ones down two grey vans over and continued on her way.

It is bad enough we all have the same black yoga pants and some version of the same black bathing suit; do we have to have an official vehicle as well?

Apparently, grey minivan it is.

Side note: Whoever is deciding the mom trends, can we do something cool next time? Please. You are killing me here.

vanSo I decided to write to you, my fellow moms, in an act of pity. I see you winding through the Costco parking lot clicking your alarm button as you desperately try to find the right grey van before your gaggle of tired children and your year’s supply of turnips spoil.

Never fear, Super Mom is here! (At least that is what my kids call me when I tell them to.)

Here are my top 5 creative, simple and budget friendly ways to stand out from the mom pack.

1. Stickers and balloons

For some reason stores think your children are dying for stickers and balloons. Both are useless and forgotten in five seconds. That is unless the balloon floats away and then we will mourn the loss of “balloony” for about a year. Maybe longer, depending on the age and stubbornness (I mean sensitivity) of your child. If the balloon survives, hang its limp dead form from the coat hanger/handle things in the back. They can then smack against the window as you drive providing a beautiful rhythmic sound to soothe your children to sleep.

As for the stickers, don’t throw any away. Ever! These can be used to create a very unique look to your van. You could let your child decorate just the inside windows. Make sure the stickers are varying sizes and shapes. It creates a beautiful pattern of shadows on the tinted windows that will be admired by all. But don’t stop there! Let them plaster those suckers all over the outside as well. The rain will start, maybe not if you live in California, and as they peel away it will make your van an eye sore/eye catcher for sure.

2. Don’t forget the stick family

You may have noticed most grey vans include the stick family in the back left window and you may be tempted to not have one. You might think that alone will make you stand out. It won’t. You can’t. It’s required. So you have to do it. It’s a mom thing.

You do however have options. Exaggerating the number of pets/people is one way to go. Cats all along the back, maybe several rows of cats, could work. There is also Star Wars, zombies and Disney! I personally recommend these: “We’re a hoot” and the family is all owls. “Just chillin’” and the family is all penguins. “Bear with us” and the family is all bears. Adorable.

Of course, you can go the “I’m so cool that I totally make fun of stick family figures” route. There are many such options for you. Such as “How stick figure families are made” (with a nice little humping graphic), “My stick family was abducted,” “Nobody cares about your stick family,” “Run you stick bastards” (dinosaur and monster truck version) and “The Ass Family” (Jack, Smart, Lazy, Kiss and Dumb).

This is a great chance to let the personality of your family shine through and brighten up your dull, grey van of boredom. Also, it’s required. So get it done and don’t argue with me or I’ll pull this van over.

3. Dangling mirror things

If you think the front of the van doesn’t matter, your wrong. So very wrong. Why are you always doing things wrong? What is wrong with you? The front totally matters because sometimes you walk down the row at Costco where you just see the front of cars and you will be completely lost and you’ll say to yourself, “I should have listened to the blogger chick, the front does matter.”

It’s OK. I forgive you and I have a plan. You know how your kids are always making you things out of paper, tin foil and garbage? Find one of those and hang it from your review mirror. Bam! Good mom award for not throwing out the treasure and you will be sure to recognize your child’s perfect piece of modern art. You are such a good mom. Your hair is pretty too.

4. Dents

This one is a little tricky. I’m not advocating taking the biggest hammer you can find and smacking the van in various locations to give it a more textured look. No. I’m not. Don’t do that. If you do, make sure it’s after one of your kids just did something truly terrible and your really mad. I can imagine that might feel good and they would be super scared to try that shit again. But you probably, most definitely, should not purposely dent up your van.

However, if your van does get some dents, use those to your advantage! Your dents will be an original expression of your driving and will be highly respected/feared on the road.

Caution: If you think denting up your van bad enough you have to replace it with a cooler car is a possibility, it is not. You will just have a very badly dented van. So, you know, keep that in mind when you start swinging.

5. Music

Once you find your dented, sticker-laden van of motherhood bliss, it is time to stand out more with what you choose to blare from the speakers. This is a personal choice, of course, but I have some wonderful suggestions to make you really stand out.

First, always, and I mean ALWAYS, have the bass turned up. Your kids will love it. Your neighbors will love it. The cute guy in the convertible next to you will love it. Even if you’re playing the soundtrack to the Wiggles (and for heaven’s sake, don’t do that), the bass will overpower the actual music and people will still think your cool.

Second, “Turn Down For What?” Play that. Loud. Even if your kids are napping, they will eventually learn to sleep through it. It’s awesome and you will look much younger and hipper.

Third, don’t forget that car dancing is a perfect excuse to get in some cardio between all those mom errands. The more arm movements, the higher the heart rate. Really go for it. Trust me, your kids will find you adorable and not at all embarrassing.

***

That’s it! It really is so simple. If you follow these 5 easy steps not only will you never get into the wrong van again, but I promise you will live a long, happy life.

Disclaimer: These tips have not been proven to help anyone live a happier or longer lasting life, nor have they been tested on animals (unless you consider my children animals and if you do, shame on you, my kids are perfect.)

The judgmental jerk next-door

I scurry quickly to the mailbox. By the time I turn around with several days worth of junk in my hands, he is standing outside waiting for me.

I really thought he’d gone out. Guess that was his wife’s car leaving a few minutes ago. My mistake.

I quicken my pace and keep my eyes cast down, pretending an advertisement for pizza is the most interesting thing I’ve ever read.

“Hey neighbor,” he calls out. “How are you?”

I consider pretending I didn’t hear him. I don’t look up for a few beats and foolishly think maybe he won’t try again.

“The kids sure are getting big,” he says.

He has mastered the art of starting a conversation before the other person can get away, a black belt of verbal assault.

“When do they start back to school?” he continues and takes a step toward me as I try to sneak past his perfectly green lawn.

Despite brown grass in every other lawn, he stubbornly refuses to allow his oasis to be thwarted by the government. He believes the drought is some conspiracy and he refuses to acknowledge it. Somehow Obama is behind it.

“We have about a month left of summer,” I say in a rush. “The kids are waiting on their lunch. I better hurry back. They get all cranky when they are hungry.”

“The girls are good,” he starts and I brace myself.

He stands squarely in the middle of the sidewalk and there is no polite way to leave now. I’m trapped in the social obligation of good neighbor.

I remember when we moved in. His sweet face all smiles and welcoming. Polished, handsome and always working in his perfect lawn and doting on his beautiful French wife. They seemed the ideal representation of the American dream.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve seem him age dramatically. He looks tired and unkempt today in a thin white t-shirt and sweatpants. He stands stooped and looks frail. There is a slight odor of aftershave mixed with something else that I can’t put my finger on.

That phrase “the girls are good” is always what he starts with. Those words have a physical effect on me. My blood pressure goes up and I get agitated because I know what follows: story after story about his three perfect granddaughters. His love for them is both beautiful and incredibly nauseating.

“Did I tell you that Samantha got straight A’s?”

“Hey did you hear that Celeste’s volleyball team made it to nationals?”

“We are sending Teresa to France for her senior trip. She is so excited!”

His love and dedication to them has been the topic of thousands of sidewalk conversations with rarely a chance to get a word in. I always smile and tell him that he must be proud.

“You know I have to take care of them,” he always says. “I have to be everything I know their father would have been.”

I remember the first time I was invited into his immaculate home, everything white and gleaming. In the living room is an enormous photo of his son. He is standing in a park somewhere, a handsome blond with tan skin. He has one daughter in a pack on his back, one attached to his leg looking up at him and the third he is pushing on a swing.

His son died shortly after the picture was taken. Brain tumor. Sudden. Tragic.

sidewalkThere have been many tears over the years on the sidewalk between our houses, as he would recount memories of the boy he lost. He and his wife put flowers on his grave every Sunday after church. Every spring they use a special cleaner to polish the gravestone.

His son’s death broke his heart and set him on this course of obsessively caring for the three young girls that were left behind.

I’ve watched as they’ve grown up with voice lessons, private school, yearly Hawaiian vacations, clothes, cell phones and anything else they could ask for. I’ve watched as he bought them each matching brand-new white Cadillac’s when they turned 16. I’ve listened to the stories of their trips and accomplishments.

I have watched these girls grow up and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been jealous. The ugly kind of jealousy that makes me loathe the sight of their privileged little blond heads in their matching Caddies as they park in front of my house to pick up cash from their loving grandparents.

I never had grandparents who thought everything I did was brilliant, perfect and worth bragging about. Never went on exotic vacations or had someone to ask for help paying for school. My legacy was mental illness and emotional distance. I was given bibles, prayed for and made to feel never enough.

Basically, I began feeling all kinds of sorry for myself. That turned into hatred of the girls for the “perfect life” that I observed from my place next door. I have spent over a decade developing my distaste of anything to do with them.

“The girls are good,” he says again and starts in.

The oldest is studying at an Ivy League college and is traveling through Europe for the summer. She is planning on being a doctor and studying the kind of tumor that killed her father. I have heard him tell me that for years now and have often wondered if it is her dream or her grandfather’s for her.

The middle girl is in Tennessee following her music career goals and he is certain she will be the next Taylor Swift. She has a boyfriend that is famous and has hired her to sing backup on his next album.

“Voice of an angel,” he says and trails off.

He stands there and kind of sways a little. I could see there was something he wasn’t saying. I was worried his cancer was back, or his wife was sick or something had happened to his daughter.

“It’s heroin,” he finally says, spitting out the words with a mixture of anger and pain. “I just don’t think I can save her. How did it happen?”

His youngest granddaughter, the athlete with the promising volleyball career, is a drug addict.

With a shaky voice he tells me how he keeps trying to get her to rehab, but she keeps leaving.

He tells me about picking her up at a filthy motel, the guys she was with wanted money and he had to call the police. He had borrowed a friend’s gun and was prepared to protect her, but realized he was over his head.

“I’m 74-years-old,” he says. “I can’t put myself in that position again. I could have been killed.”

The tears fall down his face and I hug him as hard as I can. We stand there for a few minutes and I cry into his shoulder. His sobs keep coming and I worry he might fall. He finally stops, steps back and looks at me.

“Pray for her,” he asks weakly. “Will you?”

“Of course,” I say.

He turns around and walks up the driveway without looking back. Wiping my face, I head inside to make lunch.

I have no idea why this young girl has turned to drugs. Abuse. Mental illness. Depression. Loneliness. I really have no idea.

All I know is that she is broken, her grandfather is being torn apart and I’m feeling guilt for all the bad things I’ve thought about her and her beautiful sisters.

I am the jerk next door.

The middle chapters are usually like this, aren’t they?

I tear open the candy bar wrapper and take a little bite. Just one bite I tell myself. Just enough to shove down the tears.

The most perfectly fit couple is getting into the car next to me. They have on workout gear and a bag of new golf balls. They are smiling and he opens the door for her. I think they kiss, but I look away before seeing it.

Shame and jealousy overwhelms me. My face burns as I sink down from the judgment I feel through the glass.

I wait until they drive away and then I eat the whole thing.

I don’t even taste it.

The tears come again.

Fuck.

I hear voices and dry my eyes. A woman is ushering a few kids into the van parked next to me. The exact same van as mine. Grey. Plain. Completely practical. The official vehicle of women like us. She makes eye contact with me and I know she sees the tears and the chocolate pooled in the corners of my mouth. She looks away.

I do too.

I keep having these epiphanies, but they fade. Like a dog being fooled by the same trick of throwing the ball, I keep running ahead just in case it was really thrown this time.

Next time I’ll get it.

This part of my life is boring. The monotony and responsibility of being an adult is such a huge letdown from the optimism and hope of youth.

If I am to believe Facebook, I’m alone in this feeling. Yet I know better. I know the truth.

All those memes about changing perspective and living in the moment aren’t just for my benefit. All those pictures of our kids that we post, the one’s where they are smiling and happy, aren’t just to make others think we are so great.

We are all trying to shift focus. Stay in the light. Find the good.

It’s not a lie.

Not really.

It’s just not the whole truth. It’s a version of the truth we all tell ourselves.

FullSizeRenderIt’s the middle of the story and not much is happening.

It’s the boring part of the book you skim, the endless paragraphs of bullshit self-reflection.

It’s the part when the main character wallows in self-pity until you want to punch her in the face and tell her to wake up.

Yeah. That’s where I am.

My story isn’t over.

I think about Abdi, this Somali refugee I heard about on This American Life. He won the U.S. visa lottery, but still had to go through some ridiculous shit to make his American dream come true. He had some real reasons to cry and shove sugar into his veins. Yet his is a story of endurance and patience.

I think about my mom. A few weeks ago, I hugged her goodbye and put her on a plane destined to meet the daughter she gave up for adoption before I was born. She has waited decades for this time, the pain never really going away, and now she got to hug her and look into her eyes and tell her all the things she’d whispered quietly to herself.

I think about waking up in a tent and having my two children climb into my sleeping bag with me to get warm. They giggle and jostle closer, elbows and knees and mangled hair and wet kisses. They love this broken-down woman they call mamma and don’t care she is extra squishy and cries quickly.

I think about this cashier at the grocery store by my home. She is always smiling. Always. Not the fake “can’t wait to get of her look” either. Real. Genuine. I ask her how she is and she always says, “Blessed, thank you.” She means it. It’s not bullshit. I’ve seen customers be rude and throw fits. She handles herself with grace and ease.

I think about this place I’m stuck in. This self-imposed crazy whirlpool spinning me around until I’m disorientated and I want to just sink down in defeat. Happy. Sad. Up. Down. Defeated. Motivated.

Here I am. Right here. I’m at the part of the story when the character has to decide to do something. The time has come for action.

My story isn’t over.

Sometimes being a mother breaks my heart

Today wasn’t a good one. I can’t and shouldn’t measure my mothering skills by what happens in one day or even one moment. However, I can’t help but feel I’ve let them down. Again.

I know tomorrow I will wake up and all the pain of today will have lost its luster. The tears we cried a memory getting fainter as the days go on.

But tonight I hurt.

I ache.

I bleed.

My heart breaks for the pain you felt today. The pain WE felt today.

When I saw you both all packed up and ready to go ride bikes, I could tell there was more.

I felt it.

You said the food you packed was in case you got hungry. But I saw the look you gave each other and I knew it.

I let you go anyway.

I stood at the window and watched you go. I prayed you’d be safe and knew you’d come back.

I didn’t really know. Couldn’t really know what you’d been plotting while you sat on the swing last night together. I thought it was something like hunting for fairies or looking for magic doors.

When you came back less than 10 minutes later, hot and defeated, I could sense it was so much more.

You both started crying within seconds of coming through the door and my heart dropped. It took some time to get it out of you. The plan. The secret. The wish.

Your plan is adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. Ride your bikes to Pet Smart. You’d wave at a stranger, pretending they are your parent, fool the staff. You’d adopt a kitten and a puppy. Ride home with the pets in your backpacks. You’d keep your little babies in the playhouse in the backyard. You’d feed and care for them when we aren’t looking.

You’d have the pets you so long for.

My heart breaks.

I hold you both as your tears flow and mine join in with yours.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t run out and buy seventeen kittens and puppies.

I want to.

My husband is allergic to cats and refuses to get a dog. Its been an ongoing topic of discussion and every few months it rears its painful head again.

I support him in front of them, but argue with him about it frequently. His list of reasons is short, but he will not budge.

My heart breaks.

We leave the house and go shopping to break the moment. I try and distract with humor, new books and a shared cookie.

It helps for the moment.

Later in the day though, it surfaces again. More tears. This time rage and anger. You fight with each other and get violent. You hit me. Hit each other. You scratch me. You tell me I am awful. You shake with frustration.

I listen. I hold you. I talk to you.

We talk about better ways to vent our anger so it doesn’t hurt others. You ask why I’m crying too, and I tell you I hurt when you do.

You cry more and I apologize.

I should not have cried.

I should be stronger.

We make it to the end of the day and when daddy comes home we try and hold it together. I want to rage and scream and scratch, like you. I want to make him feel the pain you do.

I don’t.

Of course I don’t.

Someday you will see I am protecting you. Marriage isn’t easy and being an adult is about compromises and sacrifice.

Or maybe you will be in therapy someday telling them you wished your mother were a stronger person.

I don’t know.

We snuggled before bedtime and I told you I loved you more than you could ever imagine. I read to you and kissed you. Tomorrow will be a better day, I say. Tomorrow we will do something fun.

You look up at me with wounded eyes and I want to cry again.

Sometimes being a mother breaks my heart.

Let’s go take a hike in the heat

weedsThe sun just rose, but the heat is already too much. My body feels heavy and weak as I trudge up another hill.

My boy is dragging his feet along the ground kicking up clouds of dust. His sister is making exaggerated coughing noises.

This hike is taking forever.

We come to the part of the trail blocked by a fallen tree.

Halfway marker.

I almost cry in exhaustion. There is no way I can climb over. My hip hurts.

I take the long way around, leaving the monsters to climb it without me.

Alone, I try to appreciate the beauty of the trail. I love the green trees, but I mostly see dead wildflowers, brown grass and sharp weeds. It is a million degrees out, and the air smells of fire. A few quail scurry out and I jump. Why did I read about how bad rattlesnakes are this season? Please don’t let me see one.

My mind starts doing what it does best, making lists and pointing out mistakes. I need to do dishes, laundry, clean the guinea pig cage, run to the grocery store and vacuum. Kids need new shoes. I should stop eating sugar. I need to start packing for camping. I think my mom is mad at me.

“Do you need help?” I hear my boy say.

“I don’t want to tear my dress,” comes the reply.

Of course they are going to start fighting. I stop and peek through the trees at them, annoyed and angry. I lecture them in my head. Do not make me hike back to help you both. It is far too hot and I’m in no mood. I’m serious. Figure it out.

My boy is dressed in white skinny jeans, wand shoved down the back, wearing my brother’s old ratty brown sweatshirt. It almost fits him now. His fedora is slipping off his head as he attempts to lift his sister onto the tree. It is not working.

My girl, all legs, is flaying about in a fit of giggles. She is wearing a fancy overpriced dress her grandmother bought for her birthday, ruffled socks and her nicest shoes. Dressed for a morning hike in the woods. Her matted hair is covering her face.

Soon the laughter is replaced with frustrated sighs and grunts. I start walking back toward them, watching them through the trees, rehearsing all the threats and punishments I’m about to unleash on them. It is so hot I swear my sweat is turning to steam.

I watch as they start whispering, heads close. My boy bends down, folds his hands together in front of him and holds them out to his sister. She steps on and lets him push her upwards. Careful to not tear her dress on the sharp bark, she climbs over the top. He climbs up next to her.

Reaching out, he takes his sister’s hand and they interlace fingers.

They stand for a moment, brother and sister, hand in hand, looking at the trail ahead.

I stop.

I’m always braced for conflict, but never the tender moments.

I take in every detail. My girl is almost as tall as her brother now. She tilts her head toward him, nuzzling his shoulder. Their fingers stay connected, strong and tight. They both look ahead in silence. My boy adjusts his hat with his other hand and then turns to smile at this sister. They let their hands drop and he pushes her away with both hands.

“Don’t make me fall,” she screams at him.

He laughs and jumps down landing hard. She follows. I hurry to catch up with them.

“That’s my wand!” my girl yells with hands on her hips. “I found it first!”

“You dropped it and it is not a wand,” my boy says launching at his sister. “It’s my sword!”

He pokes it at her and takes off running. She looks around for a new stick, finds one and is off. I can hear them both laughing. I follow.

Sorry nobody clapped for you, people suck

It is pretty much always the same. Lines of kids in caps and gowns, flowers, balloons, crying moms and fussy babies, speeches about the meaning of life, scattered bursts of applause and snapping cameras (mostly cell phones now).

Every time I attend a graduation, I’m proud and happy for the graduates. I never get tired of seeing all that hopefulness.

But it comes with equally strong feelings of hate for the human race.

I try to suppress it.

I focus on the mom with the tissues in front of me that screams out, “I love you baby!” as her boy walks across the stage.

I focus on the dad beaming two rows down who is videotaping the entire thing with due diligence.

I focus on the grandmother who is overcome with such joy that tears run down her face.

Then it happens again, another name is called that is met with silence.

This kid has no cords around his neck. No awards to speak of.

I clap in my quiet, lame way, but it’s nothing. It isn’t heard because the next kid, the one with 50 family members and tons of his peers screaming his name, is now walking across the stage.

That’s when the anger starts and I think about how fucked up this whole thing is.

I was one of the “good kids.” I worked hard, understood the game, and had lots of family members to cheer me on.

I wasn’t that kid that nobody clapped for.

But I see you.

I know that your life is harder than these spoiled kids with two loving parents and a hundred relatives that flew in from around the country to support them.

I see you.

I know that you barely graduated because you had to juggle taking care of your siblings because your mom has to work. She couldn’t come to your graduation because of work. She works hard. You do to.

I see you.

I’m fucking pissed on your behalf.

You’re the 302nd kid to walk across the stage and I know you feel alone. I can see it in the way you walk and the way you don’t make eye contact with the staff that is shaking your hand. From way up here in the stands, I can feel the pain of your life.

I see you.

This doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of the other kids. The ones that are dripping in awards that they earned, the ones who are famous around campus for their sports achievements, the ones who didn’t miss a day of school. Yes, they absolutely 100% deserve the recognition, praise and love.

But so do you.

I wish you could have heard my clap.

I see you.

The inequity of the hand that you were dealt makes me want to do something. I want to hug you and tell you that it gets better. That everything will change now. That you will be that American success story, rising out of the ashes like the phoenix, and you will get everything you’ve always dreamed of having.

But that’s a lie.

The truth is, you have to keep working. You have a lot of hard work ahead of you.

You have to show up and do stuff.

Every. Single. Day.

Life is not easy for anyone.

The kids that have a million fans in high school are not exempt. Everyone has work to do.

They might also have to face a hard fall from the high of being on top. They may spend a long time recovering from the ego blow coming their way.

They may also be so hard on themselves, a perfectionist bred from parental/societal/internal pressure, that nothing they ever do will make them happy.

We all suffer in some way.

We all have to work hard.

The thing I really want to tell you isn’t far from the silly stuff your classmates said in their commencement speeches. All that shit about “your life is what you make it” and “you can do it.” I know you rolled your eyes. I did too. But it’s true.

One minute you will feel overwhelmed with regret and sadness.

Then your 8-year-old daughter comes up behind you and gently rubs your temples and kisses the top of your head.

You will have a list of stuff to do that never seems to get smaller and you’ll scream at how meaningless it all seems.

Then your 10-year-old boy brings you coffee while your writing and it’s the right amount of cream and sugar. He sets it down and quietly whispers, “I love you.”

So, yah, life is hard. It’s not going to get easier or simpler.

But there is coffee, soft touches and moments that lift you back up and flood you with hope again.

Now get to work.

Just call me ‘one-eyed mommy’

I can’t really see out of my left eye.

Never have.

Never will.

It’s not a huge deal. Used to suck that I couldn’t see 3D movies, but the technology changed and now I can. Turns out I wasn’t missing much.

I’m lucky that my eye tracks, looks fairly normal and doesn’t bother me. I can tell when I look in the mirror and in photographs of myself, but it’s not super noticeable.

Not really a big deal.

Well, it wasn’t a big deal.

Last month my driver’s license came up for renewal. I haven’t been into the DMV since my teen years, just always renewed online. This time they required me to come in. Super annoying, but that’s bureaucracy.

After failing the eye exam with my bum eye, as I knew I would, the lady says I need to get my eye doctor to fill out a special form that allows me to drive. I did that years ago, but they have no record of it. Another annoyance, but I smile and move forward.

After all, I am a ridiculous rule follower at heart and I know how to play the game. Smile. Nod. Jump through the hoops.

I drop the form off for my doctor and wait the 7-10 days it takes for it to be filled out. Once ready, I pick up the form, wait for just under an hour at the DMV with my kids in tow, and finally hand it over.

“Not good enough,” the woman says without looking up.

“Excuse me?” I say with a smile.

Clearly I heard her wrong.

“We are going to need you to take a behind the wheel test,” she says. She follows this with a big exhausted sigh.

“Say that again?” I say.

She finally looks up and explains that for “people like you we need proof that you are a safe driver.” I make an appointment to come back in two weeks to prove I can drive with one eye.

“Might have to give you a provisional license.”

“Might need you to take the test every time you renew now.”

Tears come and I am pissed. I swallow hard and brush them away. Don’t cry Bridgette. Don’t make a scene. It’s not her fault.

“The DMV is black and white,” she says. “I’m sorry. There is no gray area.”

I look in her eyes and decide she probably is sorry. Her job sucks, but in that moment I don’t care. I want to smash her face.

I gather my form up and walk to the car. The second the van door shuts I start to sob. Big, holy shit sobs.

What the fuck am I going to do if they take my license?

“Mommy, are you OK?” my girl says from the backseat. “I’ve never seen you this upset.”

“No,” I said. “I am not. I will be, but right now I am upset.”

She unbuckles her seatbelt and touches my shoulder. My boy follows her example. We sit there like that for a few minutes, me sobbing while my children comfort me.

Eventually I snap to it, wipe away my tears and move forward. I think we got ice cream.

It’s been almost two weeks and my test is tomorrow.

I am not good.

My anxiety is at Threat Level Orange, and I’m really not being nice to anyone in my path today.

It is completely ridiculous.

Ludicrous.

Of course it’s going to be OK. I know how to drive. I’m certainly a better driver than when I was 16. I have nothing to worry about.

Yet…

The fear is so great that I’m finding it hard to move today. I want to crawl back in bed and sob into my pillow and it really has nothing to do with the actual test.

It has everything to do with losing my freedom.

My entire ability to care for my family is wrapped up in my car. We live 25 minutes from school. We live 20 minutes away from my nearest friend. Without wheels I am trapped.

No car=no life.

I know that seems melodramatic. It is.

But I’m scared to death of going blind and being dependent on others.

I don’t like to ask people for help. I don’t want someone having to help me with anything. Ever.

So tomorrow is a big deal for me.

And then there is my grandma Kate.

I keep flashing to the day we had to take my grandmother’s license away. She was in her late 80s and had started having dementia. She had got lost several times and drove onto a curb. It wasn’t safe for her to drive anymore. I knew it. She knew it. But actually going through with taking away her car was horrible.

I still remember her crying.

She knew that was the end of her freedom.

She knew it meant she had to rely on someone to do everything for her now.

She knew it meant defeat.

I felt her pain then, but I feel it even more now. I keep seeing that look on her face and I want to go back in time and hug her even tighter. I want to hold her and say, “I love you grandma. I’m sorry.”

I was in my 20s at the time and I was exhausted at taking care of her. I was frustrated that she wouldn’t see that she was being unsafe and selfish. I became impatient with her. I tried to understand, but how could I?

Getting old sucks.

Losing your freedom at any age sucks.

I think about friends I have right now that have to rely on others to do things for them either because they are battling cancer or because they have a disability. I think about how much freedom they have lost and I feel like an ass, a selfish and stupid ass.

Even so, I’m still scared shitless about tomorrow.

My husband suggested going in whistling, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Not likely.

A friend suggested dressing and acting like a teenager from the 90s.

That would be fun, but I’m too chicken.

Oh, I got it!

When the fear starts to grip me, I’m going to remember this picture of my crazy, pirate of a son.

piratecooper

“Me eyes….oh not me eyes!!”

Yes. That will do.