This weekend my exhusband cleaned my van. I'm grateful and shocked. I left the car with him while on a work trip, some things happened and it lead to him cleaning the van "as best he could". He informed me that the task was disgusting, demoralizing and exhaustive. I mean, I knew my van was dirty but I didn't understand the level of how dirty the van was until I opened it this morning to take my kids to school. And although the floor of the van is still a bit crumby, all-in-all I can't say I recognize my fertility vehicle at all.
The cleanliness of my fertility vehicle was always a huge debate during my marriage. I never really thought that having a clean car was a representation of who I was. I saw a car like a hammer or a cup-a functional and necessary tool to serve my purpose. It needed to be safe, the engine and her parts needed routine maintenance and after that who cares. On the other hand my now exhusband was very strongly opposed to a dirty van or car and would continually remind me of how disgusting I allowed the cars to get. He never let the kids eat in the cars, I did. They never got to color or do anything messy in the cars... I allowed it. But frankly, the way in which we moved our miniature humans around was very different. He took luxury trips. I took more routine trips with the kids. So often I'd throw activities (and fries) back there to keep them quiet and me focused on what needed to happen.
As the kids got older, I began to let more crazy things happen in the van. Trips to the beach, the park or the pool meant that toys and bathing suits stayed in the van. Creative kids drew imaginary friends on seats and ceilings like a Sistine Chapel replica. Road trips and potty training overlapped so we left a potty in the car. The potty was accompanied with cleaning supplies and air fresheners. It was super convenient but sometimes, the potty wasn't cleaned so sometimes, actually most often, the car had a tinge of pee in the air. I remember those 100+ degree days when that smell hit you right as the sliding door opened.
Until late, the burden of a dirty van never bothered me. I gave rides to friends who "understood" the struggle and accepted rides under the promise of an illustrious cruise in the "pee van". But something changed. I began to feel overwhelmed when the van door opened and socks, old cartons, sippy bottles and pee smell lurched from the van door. I began to feel an overwhelming sense of failure when I rode in cars that had never had a child in it. I began to feel exhausted with the thought of even attempting to clean the van. It had to be done, but weekend after weekend it was pushed back in hopes that another task (which it often did) would fill the slot. So now, when I got the text message- "I'm cleaning the van. What stays?" I thought for five minutes, swimming through all the junk I remembered was in there and texted back "Pitch it all".
I'm grateful to my exhusband for cleaning out the minivan. Will I keep it clean? I can't promise that I will. One thing is certain, I will be a bit more aware of what goes on back there. I'm going to be respectful of his efforts... and at least try to keep it clean for a month.
This time last year I talked about my struggles with my sport fertility vehicle- Confession: I have a potty in my van. I guess November provides an opportunity for me to analyze how I get around.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.