Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Use Your Words! by Dana Mentink

I used to tell my little girls that all the time. Use your words to show how you feel, not tears or fists or tantrums.  So allow me to use mine to explain why I cried when traded in our vehicle. It wasn't about the car, the old white mini van with scratched paint and a window that wouldn't roll down. It’s wasn't the engine that was worth, in the heartless pages of a blue book, only a few dollars. It wasn’t trading away that vehicle that set my tears in motion. 

It was the little Barbie purse I found in the back seat of that old van, a small leftover from the dolls that went with us everywhere. The CD player that never worked quite right? It was thanks to a wee one who pushed a dime into the slot when we were killing time before some swim lessons.  The stain on the carpetwas from a juice box dropped on the floor, perhaps after a zoo trip when little red cheeked girls fell asleep in car seats on the way home.

It wasn't the car. It was the knowledge that I am not the mini van mom anymore. I am not the woman with little children in tow, always ready with a bag of goldfish and an extra set of clothes tucked under the seats just in case. I am not that mom with soothing answers to all questions and a stash of secret snacks in the glove box. I am not that mom, not anymore.

Now there is texting and laughing in our new vehicle, the one with the buttons that I can’t figure out. High school dances replace zoo trips and Mommy and Me swim classes. I am the driver, the quiet chauffeur, who listens to the teens chattering in my car, silent and reliable, watching my girls turn into women via the rear view mirror.

I am not that mom. And they are not little girls. And the tears are not about the car.


Did you ever experience a  moment like this? 

24 comments:

  1. There was the day in 1992 that I braved the elements of my son's room and went in to clean it after he'd left for his first year of college. And I did okay. Until, in the bottom of his closet, carefully put away, I found the cigar box full of little green army men he'd played with for all the years of his little-boyhood. I closed the box, the closet, and the door of his room, and I cried. A lot. Even though I still sniffle when I remember it, it was a precious day of letting go.

    Thanks for sharing. The picture is beautiful!

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  2. Awwww. That box of little green army men would have gotten to me also, Liz!

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  3. My favorite line was "turn into women via the rearview mirror." Truly, touching.
    So, I'm still the minivan mom. Right now there are legos on the floorboards, a sandal under one seat and the stain, that's from a science experiment that Mike put upside-down next to him. I could go on because Chicken Mcnuggets do seem to appear in strange places... the glove box.

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  4. Dana, Your post brings back memories. I had to go through the separation process twice as my girls have 7 years between them. Your girls are indeed growing into beautiful women. I know you'll have many more tearful moments to look back on, but also with joy and nostalgia.

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  5. Beautifully done, Dana! I love a story that makes you smile then rips your heart out - I guess that's motherhood in a nutshell. Your daughters are beautiful.

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    1. I did once hear motherhood described as your heart walking around outside your body. So true!

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  6. Dana, you made me laugh and tear up in five paragraphs. And remember....they will always be your little girls(:

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  7. I'm tearing up right now! I am going through the same changes in my life. My kids are not little anymore. Our relationship is changing along with them. There are parts of this new phase that I love and parts of their childhood that I miss greatly! My youngest snuggled on the couch with me last night and it was the best. I know I will cry when I can't get them to do that anymore.

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    1. Me too, Amy. I still get a few snuggles here and there. They are precious indeed!

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  8. Such a touching post, Dana! I remember our family's ancient Suburban. It felt so weird when my parents upgraded to a newer model in my late teens because we'd had so many *memories* in that vehicle - road trips and family fights and laughs. This is a poignant post we can all relate to!

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  9. I bawled at the car dealership and people thought I was deranged. Sigh.

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  10. Such a beautiful tribute to you and your family! Love this. Enjoy your precious ones and hold them close.

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  11. I remember noticing my daughter didn't have a little girl button nose anymore. Such a small thing, but so hard to grasp sometimes. Loved your post.

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    1. Those little things are so bittersweet!

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  12. Such sweet words, Dana! How lucky you all were to have had that van and just imagine the stories the new car will tell!

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    1. I hope there's another family driving that old white van around the world!

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  13. My daughter left home for a very good job offer. I cleaned out an office closet and found a bag of her baby shoes that I'd kept from infancy to toddler. I looked at each tiny shoe and the tears began to flow. Time passes by too fast.

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  14. Very sweet post, Dana. I've had moments like that too, and many of them fall this time of year when I watch my kids head off to a new year of school. It seems to highlight how fast time flies.

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