The Anatomy of a Mother’s Car


IMG_0994After over six years of being a mother, I’ve decided that there are two types of cars that transport our children around. There’s the car that looks and smells almost like new and makes you wonder how children inhabit it at all. Then there is the car that is an embarrassment to drive.

I drive one of the latter. Several moms I know drive around in the aforementioned pristine vehicles. These are also the mothers who apologize that their homes are dirty and see folded towels in the bathroom. Yes, folded towels. I don’t think I need to say more.

Last week I bought a piece of furniture and needed assistance putting it in the back of my car. A petrified cupcake fell out when I opened my trunk for the salesperson. It was from my four-year-old’s birthday party in November. This man didn’t seem phased by this, which led me to believe my car was not unusual. I decided that I had to write about this and that there were other mothers like me!

Every morning I pull up to the fancy nursery school in the white church and drop my four-year-old off. Usually, the same lovely teacher helps her out of the car. Goldfish or pirates’ booty sometimes fall out when she opens the door. I wear my sunglasses because I can’t bear to look her in the eye. I make a mental note to vacuum the car, yet I continue to drive past the car wash place repeatedly.

Before you pass judgment, know I am not alone in driving around in filth.

My sister’s car is just as bad. Last year her husband had to drive it to a golf outing. He came home and looked at her with a grave expression on his face. “I can’t ever drive that car again,” he told her. He was mortified. Not only is her car a disaster on the inside it is also smashed up on the side where someone hit her in the parking lot. It used to be a very nice Acura.

My car doesn’t look bad on the outside except for maybe some threads of gum on the driver’s side door, courtesy of my youngest. About once or twice per year, a smell comes from inside my car that is a mystery. This happens mainly in the warmer months, which leads me to believe it’s likely a dairy product that has rotten under one of the seats. We all complain about it, and the windows must stay down for some time.

When I was married, my husband considered it his job to clean my car. “This is an asset,” he would say in admonishment. I think he wanted me to hang my head in shame, but instead, I shrugged and said, “Well, thank God you are here to clean it!” He would bang the car seats on the ground, and hundreds of raisins would scatter, sounding like pebbles hitting the driveway.

Of course, this caused many other instructions from my kids’ father regarding food in the car and household items that had migrated. “Do you know how many spoons I found in here?!” My husband forever complained that we never had spoons in the kitchen drawer. “Where do they all go?” he would ask in frustration. I knew where they were. They were in the car. I often ate yogurt in the car as I drove my kids to school or activities because sometimes it was the only chance I got to eat.

Now that I am single and, on occasion, go on a date, I am faced with a new set of concerns regarding my car. If a man wants to walk me to the car, I panic. Getting too close meant he would see the stains on the seat cushions. Worse yet, he might catch a glimpse of the coins fused by some substance in the center console.

So, I recently decided to vacuum and do some basic cleaning. The goldfish went up easily and some coins. Several fairy shoes and small gemstones from various art projects were also sucked up. The mats got banged out. All of the fused coins came up easily in one clump. There was a package of wipes that I found and used to clean the dashboard. Then it was time to look under the seats, my least favorite part. I somehow feared that if I put my hand under the seat, it would look like Kate Capshaw’s hand from Temple of Doom, but instead of enormous Stick Bugs, there would be soggy crackers and old yogurt. So, in the end, I mustered up the courage, and there I found all the missing sippy cups, right next to five spoons.

Tell me I’m not alone! What do you have hiding in your car?


  1. This made me laugh. I’m always joking about the amount if crushed goldfish and nilla wafer bits that inhabit my back seat. My non-mom friends know to never ask me to drive them anywhere. I recently found two sippy cups buried under a blanket on the floor. Thankfully the liquid in them had frozen rather than spoil, and I too have a mystery smell. It never ends does it?

  2. My husband often tries to shame me for my car and I just remind him of who and what I haul around every day in it. In the passenger seat sits all the different types of bags, purses and wallets that help keep me “organized.” Scattered on the passenger seat floor are dozens of cans of Diet Coke, paper fast food cups and granola bar wrappers from food I’ve had to eat while on the run. Crusty coins are fused together in each nook and cranny–these are usually pennies that have been corroding in my car for years. The back seat usually contains at least a dozen Hotwheels, half the sippy cups we own, our entire supply of spoons, crusty french fries, half eaten chicken nuggets, lollipop sticks, crayons, ziploc bags (because that is what my son eats out of in the car) and sometimes a pee diaper I might have forgotten about. My upholstery is less what came with the car and more a tapestry of dog hair, fast food goo and Febreze that I constantly use to try to mask the dog/kid/old food/mold smell. Leave anything in my husband’s car, though, and you will get a stern lecture.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here