Hey, Mama with the beat-up car – I see you. I see you driving to the park, to the store, to the school to drop your kids off. I see the rust spots and the loud muffler and the hand-crank windows. I see the embarrassed look on your children’s faces when you pull up to school or an event. I see you blink back the tears because you feel that you aren’t giving your children everything material that everyone else seems to have for their children. I see you.
I see you worry about that noise the engine is making and I know that the wheels are turning in your head, wondering how you will scrape up the money for repairs. I see you watching that mileage climb upwards and every mile you drive additionally seems one step closer to the end for your vehicle.
I see you, because I am you. I drive a 2005 minivan with rust spots and doors that takes actual physical force to close. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it means that you have to actually slide the van door yourself, instead of watching it slowly close at the push of a button. My husband and I are fortunate enough to be a two-vehicle family, but I experience the same thing when I drive my husband’s car. It’s the car with the loud muffler that looks like it has lived a life of its own (probably because it has).
The other day, I pulled up at a toll booth and watched the expression on the woman’s face as we maintained eye contact while I physically rolled down my window. And not with a button. It took an entire 20 seconds. I’m not going to lie…we both laughed at the old-fashioned absurdity of the situation (surely she sees this more than once a day?!). My daughter asked me if we could please play her CD in the CD player…which doesn’t exist in said car. No, no….said car has something that is rarely ever seen before: a tape deck.
I see you, because I am you. We have bought all of our vehicles on Craigslist with cash- not because it’s the easy/convenient, but because for us…it’s the only way we can afford our cars.
But do you know what else I see in you, Mama with the beat-up car? I see a Mama (or Dad!) who is working the hardest they can with what they’ve got. I see you pulling up to school, or church, or the park, even though you might feel like you belong to a different group of people. I see you making sacrifices for the sake of your children, understanding that driving a beat-up car means saying yes to something else.
I see you, teaching your child life lessons that not even the best curriculum could cover. I see you teaching your child that money isn’t everything, that family is. I see you teaching your child that hard work isn’t always a bad thing (even when they have to use their actual arm muscles to close the van door). I see you teaching your child that you can be a strong woman and mother, even if your money doesn’t come easily or frequently enough. I see you teaching your child that what is on the inside matters more than what is on the outside.
You see, Mama with the beat-up car, if I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Your status as a mother is worth so much more than the cost of your vehicle.