Monday, December 17, 2007

True Humility

As a mother of six young children, I am never lacking opportunities to practice the virtue of humility; my children humble me constantly. Yet, there is nothing quite as humiliating for me as a trip to the carwash.

I always go to the same carwash because it is cheap, fast and fairly friendly. I can't tell if the quality is great because, given what I start with, there is only so much they can do. Nevertheless, it works for me, so there I go.

I am quite certain that they know me and my van by now. I am sure they must pray, every time they see me drive by, "Please, God, don't let THAT turn into our driveway today!" When I do turn in, I am guessing that the workers are busy calling in favors, changing their workstations around and working whatever deal they can, just so long as they don't end up being the poor sap stuck on vacuum duty for my vehicle. Perhaps they use me as a hazing ritual for new employees.

And, really, I can't blame them if they do. By the time I carve out the time to go to the carwash, I can assure you that my van is disgusting. The amount of crumbs on the floor could feed a small country. The trash could cave in a landfill. And did I mention that the cats pee in my car whenever a child leaves the door open? I might actually quit the carwash job rather than vacuum my own car. It is that bad.

Do you want to know the scariest part? Before I even get to the carwash, you can be sure I have invested nearly an hour cleaning the jackets, shoes, socks, wrappers, crafts, school notices, books, toys and cups out of the three rows. Worst of all, I do this fairly regularly.

So far, I've only mentioned the inside. Want to know what the rest of the car looks like? Outside, the kids have written their names and "Wash Me" in the dust on three sides, top and bottom. The car-length scratches from somebody's toy car stand out, even beneath all the dust, like a garland of silver tinsel on a Christmas tree. To top it all off I am missing a hubcap, as if I needed any more help looking like I should be playing a banjo on my front porch.


Some days I wonder, what is wrong with me that I let this get so bad? Why don't I discipline the children more about what they leave in the car and what they bring in the house? Why do I let them eat in the car, play cards in the car, take their shoes off in the car?! But I know the answer...I do what I can, where I can, and I fight the most important battles. If I tried to fight them all, there would be no peace in my family. For me, the car is one of the areas I am not willing to fight, because by the time we get home from wherever we have been, I am generally exhausted and the kids can't wait to get out of the car. This is not a good combination for the state of our car, but often it's great for my sanity to see them dash away into the house, especially after a long time in the car together. So what's a mom to do? Be humbled by the car washers for now, I guess.

I must thank my dear friend who sent me this link a few days ago, to let me know that my situation is not all that unusual. I laughed so hard I actually cried. It made today's car wash visit, well, a little less humiliating.


Annie Bizzi said...

It's nice to know we still have so many things in common...except I have personal car wash attendants, ages 10 and 12, respectively. They aren't cheap, though!

Anonymous said...

The car wash I used to go to but now Victor goes to feels the same about our car. I refused to go back when they opened my car door without my permission to decide how much to charge for my trash mobile. I spend many a day mucking out the car in my parking spot at St. Rita cleaning and re arranging the stroller, surfboard, sleeping bag, 16 pairs of forgotten shoes, 15 socks, school sweatshirts, jackets, forgotten lunches, pencils, homework someone was trying to hide, etc. I know you understand. My Husbands car remains pristine of course as no children ride in it. I think of you often. LL Kate

Anonymous said...

Oh Suz, what a great story. My minivan and car wash experiences (I think I go about 3 times a year) are quite similar, with half the children. I don't know if it is humanly possible to keep a minivan clean (or even remotely clean). I watched the link and laughed out loud! Thanks for sharing! We miss you all,
Renee (and the rest of the Bertenthals)

Marilyn said...

Keep up the good work. Cheers:-)