There is only one thing that confirms true parenthood in America.
And that is a moment Nathan and I have dreaded and avoided for two years this far.
We have only been able to stall by illusion, having borrowed Nathan’s parents’ van anytime we had more than three foster kids, which has been most of the time. My car was paid off, so we let them use that while we borrowed their van, and we have been very, very grateful for their help.
It has been a miracle to us, despite its worn out state and broken windshield. We are thrifty people, and have used our savings for things like burying my parents or paying for Cancer. A new car was not an option as long as it was not a necessity.
Until this morning.
This morning the van finally passed, after a slow and painful death. We shared vacation memories and reminisced about old arguments of children no longer here. We sang a short hymn, and held a moment of silence.
Old faithful was gone.
There was nothing to do but throw baby car seats into the other car, and permit Six to ride in the front seat just to get her to school.
This, of course, cured her of her weekend blues faster than anything because she is now officially more special and cool than anyone else ever has been.
13 had already gone to school, and thank goodness the new baby isn’t here yet. There were just enough seats for me to deliver everyone to school and get myself to work while Nathan stayed home to work. But we knew the time had come.
We have been researching and praying and thinking.
Nathan’s dad had a small credit at once place, but the 8 seaters at that place are more truck like and twice as expensive.
We went back, then, to where I have gotten other cars, even though not American but higher on safety and longevity and half the price.
Because safety and price matter most to me right now.
That is how we spent the end of our day shopping for a new friend to carry us through this journey of parenthood.
Because nothing says “we are adopting two or six kids this year” like finally succumbing to the thing we have dreaded most: a minivan.
The plan of happiness, right?
So here we are, purchasing our first minivan. I found a last year one with not too many miles on it in excellent condition with a good warranty and half the price of what I could find locally. It was worth the drive, however painful, and we did a good job of not getting things added to it that we don’t really need (like not getting the backseat DVD player or entertainment center). I am not thrilled for spending more money each month, but am grateful that once again we have sufficient for our needs.
And today we needed a new van.
It was weird because they remembered me from my last car I bought there, the one Nathan’s parents have now. They even remembered I was getting that one so I could give my other car to my mom. So they asked me, “did that car free up your mom like you thought it would?”
What do I say to that?
Then when showing us the features, he went into a speal about how the engine will drop out if there is a front end collision, so that it won’t catch on fire.
Then, he says, there is roadside assistance, so if you are coming home from Joplin, and something happens…
Stop! Are you kidding me?
I didn’t cry for him, though.
I did squeeze Nathan’s hand pretty tight.
I took some deep breaths.
And I was okay.
And I drove home a minivan, knowing it was more of a commitment to the local ER than it was to these children I would just walk all over town of that hadn’t already been done to them.
But it’s okay, because we are cool now, almost like real grownups.
Happy birthday, mom.
Thanks for the new car.