When a Car's Not Just a Car

It’s just a car, right?


Maybe not.

Months of energy, looking and planning and saving and preparing. Getting my hopes up. Having plans fall apart. Not being understood by anyone, because, it’s just a car, right?

Moms are a little weird to the rest of the world, because we connect memories and emotions to inanimate objects.

A little background…

I have a minivan that needs a transmission, but is otherwise in good shape.  I found someone who would replace it rather inexpensively, but I finally decided to get rid of it and buy a car. More on my reasons for that later.

I searched for months for a car in my price range, and one finally fell into my lap last week. So the move to sell the van became urgent. I had someone who would buy the van for a fraction of what it was worth, and I finally agreed, even though I felt like I was being ripped off.

Let me explain about the car, though. It’s five years older than the van. I wouldn’t say I’m in love with the car, or that it’s my dream car. But it’s a good car. It’s a reliable, dependable, gas-efficient, affordable, sturdy car. I could be very happy with it.

Just a little deeper…

We bought the van about five years ago when both boys were home. We wanted a vehicle for our family and for God… so we could volunteer our time to the youth group and transport kids when necessary. The van has a built-in car seat for that wonderful little guy we often kept back then.

The van was perfect.

Flash forward…

My older son, a film school graduate, has his sights set on California. By springtime, he will be calling the West Coast home. Though I desire to see him spread his wings and find the success he so greatly deserves, he will still be thousands of miles away.

My younger son is studying acting in New York City. He’s been gone since mid-August, and I miss him.

The little angel who once filled that car seat no longer does, and he took my heart with him.

The youth group transitioned, and we went separate ways.

When I look in the rearview mirror, I see nothing. And no one.

Now, it’s just me. Me and a van with a bad transmission that I drive in third gear the five miles to and from work each day.

My 50-plus-hour workweeks are filled with underusing my education and experience, trying to find out who I am in this world now that my role as a mother isn’t as important.

And then, last night…

After days of anguish and uncertainty, the man who wanted my van finally made arrangements to get it. He told me he’d buy it simply because he said he would. I wanted to help make the transaction smoother since he was having a busy workday.

So, I arranged a ride for me and had her follow me 40 miles away, limping the van, which actually drives well once it’s up to speed, and as long as hills are not involved.

For 40 miles, I had hope that I could move on with my life. That I could have wings again.

For 40 miles, I could see all my work and effort coming to fruition, and I would finally do something right.

The whole deal started crashing around me when he saw that the speedometer and water temperature gauges weren’t working. They had recently quit independently and my dad said it was a simple fix that just required getting behind the dash. I didn’t think anymore about it.

But it was a deal-breaker.

The guy went on and on about computers and solenoids, but all I heard was, “You can’t see your children.” “You screwed up.” “You wasted your time and efforts.” “You aren’t worthy to have a fully functioning vehicle.”

And, again, “You can’t go see your son.”

That was a long drive home.

Now, I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel silly and irrational. That was my last shot at being about to start moving on with my own life now that the boys are pursuing theirs.

How silly I am.

It’s just a car, right?

No, I don’t think so.

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