You know how they tell you not to do anything major to your hair while pregnant because the raging hormones will drive you to HATE those new red highlights, no matter how nice they may look, and you will bawl as if Reese and Ryan were splitting up all over again? Yeah, well, they should also warn us about buying new cars under the influence of pregnancy hormones. Because that SUV I got while pregnant with Drew? Not exactly the happiest decision I ever made for myself.
Don’t get me wrong; it was a lovely vehicle and many families would have been thrilled to have it. I get why so many of you have them — it held TWO double strollers, for crying out loud, with room to spare for groceries. A slice of mom heaven! I convinced myself I had to have one.
Yet… it just wasn’t me.
We moms give up so much of ourselves when we have kids, as it is, that I recently realized I wanted a car that reflected me somewhat. I may be hobbling around with a cane before I ever have a two-seat convertible again, but that doesn’t mean I have to drive a vehicle that just barely squeezes into our garage. And I do mean barely. Trying to park that thing was like me trying to fit into the skinny jeans that Mr. Candy threw into our dryer on high heat — uncomfortable to watch and a nail-biter to the end.
So, last week, I once again started looking for a new car — a process I both love and hate. Admiring shiny new cars and dreaming about driving them home: good. Dealing with car salesmen: bad. All of the old cliches about car salesmen hold true, I’ve found, especially the one about the sexist a-holes.
“Oh, that car has a lot of power,” one such a-hole responded after I asked about another model. “Maybe you can take your husband’s old car and he can buy this sportier one with the big engine!”
At which point I checked my phone to confirm it was NOT 1950, then promptly headed to the exit.
When I finally ended up at a dealership I didn’t entirely loathe, with a salesman I could kind of tolerate, and a family-friendly-yet-pretty-cool car I desperately wanted, the manager uttered the most dreaded nine words in the English language. The most dreaded words to a mother, that is:
“May we look in your car to appraise it?”
Oh, God. I hadn’t gone there expecting to close a deal yet, so I hadn’t CLEANED MY CAR yet either. You know what the inside of a car that regularly schleps two young kids around looks like right? It’s basically congealed milk, crushed Cheerios and a pile of kid crap on wheels.
“Sure! Let me just… grab something first,” I gulped, the color draining from my face.
Thankfully, as a mom, I have mastered the art of super-quick, super-superficial cleaning jobs. I happened to have a couple of empty grocery bags and a plastic container lying around in my car — you know, just in case a dealership wanted to appraise it some year — and, people, I shoved the crap in there faster than you could say, “YUCK. What IS that smell coming from the glove compartment?!”
We closed the deal the next day, mystery stench be damned.
When they handed me the keys, I may or may not have hugged my new car. But, hey, cut me some slack: I’m not having any more kids so this is about the closest I’m going to get to welcoming a new baby now. I leaned in close, inhaled deeply to savor that “new car” smell, tenderly stroked her clean leather seats and whispered in her window:
“I wish I didn’t have to put my kids in you.”