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…of metal.

This is my Ode to a Minivan.

Or,

How to Cope with Separation Anxiety Over a Large Inanimate Object.

Tears brimmed as I steered our 12-year-old Dodge Caravan up the driveway,

along the winding country road

and through the hills to the nearest Valley city,

where I would sell the two-ton family member for a mere $300.

1995_dodge_grand-caravan_passenger-minivan_es_fq_oem_1_500

(The paint had actually started peeling, but the interior still looked great!)

Yes, after all we’d been through,

our minivan was like my own flesh and blood.

Driving it for the last time brought a flood of memories.

As my vision blurred,

I remembered our daughter, pre-school-size, and her toddler buddy,

sitting in the comfy built-in booster seats,

guzzling apple juice from sippee cups…

Traversing freeways in a desert metropolis twice a day

while chauffeuring our son to and from high school…

In between trips,

carting babies and kiddos to the local park,

to their favorite play area at the mall,

or to McD’s for burning energy on slides and tubes…

running errands, buying groceries,

returning library videos and books—albeit late as usual—

after my day care hours ended and the sun went down on warm Arizona evenings…

Driving to Diamondbacks games to cheer for our favorite MLB team…

And the trip to San Francisco,

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where the kids saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Our brown lab splashed in the waves,

and Emily wore her big brother’s baseball cap.

Even though they’re ten years apart,

they’re still the best of friends.

This vehicle had become a second home—on wheels.

Smoothing the upholstery,

gripping armrests,

patting the dashboard,

were my way of saying Goodbye.

Okay, Baby, I need you to make it down the road one more time.

The transmission had lingered too close to death for too many months.

But…

this is also my Ode to Motherhood.

You know, that perilous feat of laboring for hours,

pushing a tiny human through the birth canal and into the world,

changing his life and mine forever.

(Yes, perilous. Women of ages past died giving birth.)

But just as I had been told,

every remembrance of pain slipped away

once I cradled our babies, in arms that had waited so, so long.

With their wondering eyes looking up at me,

an indescribable fierce love took up residence within my heart.

Little did I know of the cares and worries

that would accompany this parenting package.

Nor could I imagine this devotion to family that would

besiege me for the rest of my life.

Kids and Me in D.C._n

Ron and me and Em_n

Here I sit,

attempting to describe this blessed craziness of being Mom

in 700 words or less…

might as well try to summarize the universe on a single page…

Motherhood must be experienced to be understood.

Now after 28 years,

I am a mother through and through.

Is there anything like the sound of my kids’ laughter, singing, affectionate whispering,

seeing them smile,

hearing the phrase, I love you, Mom…

I can’t say I was entirely prepared for the enormity of parenting,

and I don’t have to tell you I have a list of mistakes and regrets

too long for my liking—

because if you’re a parent, you understand.

But the moments and memories of good times

far outnumber the bad.

Love really does cover a multitude of transgressions.

At those times when my son or daughter reaches a milestone

or rises to a challenge,

I shed tears of amazement.

And relief.

Thank You, Lord…

Among all the things I would do better if given the chance,

there must have been a few things done right.

And with Your help, it looks like they’re gonna be okay.

With each birthday marking the passing of another year,

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I’d wipe my brow,

Whew! We made it!

Now though, with both my babies grown,

birthdays are bittersweet.

Another one already?!

When did time start moving at light speed?

I hardly know.

Pulling the van into a parking lot,

finding my contact,

turning the key to cut the engine one last time,

I patted the dashboard again,

not only to say Goodbye,

but to say Thanks for being a part of our family. You won’t be forgotten.

 

(Parts of this post are from a past column, courtesy of the McClatchy Company.)

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