Saturday was car wash day at our home. Sometimes also Sunday. Or a Tuesday in June if it was a particularly dirty week or I accidentally touched the window with my finger. I was eight so it was known to happen.
We sprayed, we soaped, we scrubbed, we dried. We used a professional grade chamois. (A good chamois was the perfect Christmas gift.) We waxed on and off, we shined wheels, scrubbed tires and used Armour All on the steering wheel so much that our car was a legal weapon. We washed windows – inside and outside. We beat floor mats and vacuumed upholstery.
We didn’t slam doors, we used only the handle to get in and out, we didn’t touch windows. I am pretty sure I didn’t eat goldfish in the backseat. Were goldfish around in 1975? We didn’t sit on the hoods, we didn’t lean on the doors. We admired our really clean cars.
In college I received car wash kits for Christmas. I had my own chamois and bottles of Armour All under the sink. I was the only college student in the apartment building who owned a hose and hand-washed her car in the parking lot.
I look in the rear-view mirror and see Astrid throwing goldfish crackers on the car floor. Esther is writing her name in the window frost. Eloise has her wet boots on the upholstered seat in front of her.
I drink a grande latte and see yesterday’s cup on the floor. Pennies, nickles and receipts litter the floor. Crumbs line the seats and floor boards. You can still see the remnants of yesterdays tic-tac-toe game on the back window frost. I see the stains on the back of both front seats from 8 years of snowy boots.
The back of my truck is caked with mud from stroller wheels. I remove the car seats and there are permanent marks on the bench. My floor mats are missing. Stains of spilled cups of coffee cover the carpet by my feet.
The paint is scratched because I let my kids use the keys to get themselves in the car. More scratches from backpacks, car seat transfers and bicycle accidents.
I find wrappers and bags and extra napkins in the back from where we’ve had picnics sitting in the way back with the hatch up on a hot Summer day.
In every nook and cranny I find goldfish crackers, plastic toys and small books. Crayons, pencils and hair-bows are also among the precious loot.
In the rare instance that I take my truck to the car wash I sit in sadness watching my kids fingerprints melting away in the water. I nearly sob as I vacuum up the last month of their life of car pools and rides to friends houses. I laugh as I find the homework that Eloise lost last month.
Sometimes I want a shiny new car. Sometimes I want to keep this car forever. It defines my motherhood.
Sometimes I think I should take better car of it, but most of the time I know that for now I am focusing on the important stuff.
This post was written as a memoir for The Red Dress Club. This week we were to write a post based upon the photo above.