My parents came to visit and they brought us a minivan.
It's an old minivan. It has 150,000 miles on it and has needed one repair already since we got it. The engine has a low rumble that makes me nervous, but my parents drove it all the way from Texas without trouble, so it clearly has a few miles left in it.
So we have a vehicle again.
For now, the kids are still riding the bus. I would like to keep them on the bus until the school year is out, but it is a relief to know we could switch to the van if there are any problems. My six year old came home yesterday and said that some big girls were picking on her. "They kept calling me 'orphan' and shouting 'Bananas!' at me," she explained. I have no idea what that means and neither does she, but she was not sufficiently troubled by it to give up bus-riding, which she otherwise enjoys. If that's the worst thing that happens, I will consider bus-riding a success.
And now I am trying to decide how much of vehicled life I want to re-adapt to. I love being able to walk a few blocks to pick up the kids rather than drive, but I have already learned to always bring the stroller with me. A few neighborhood prostitutes have started walking that stretch of road during the afternoon, and I get more attention than I want if I wait there alone. My stroller marks me as MOM, and moms get respected or left alone here. I have never had so much as an unkind word directed toward me when I am pushing the stroller.
One of the privileges of visible motherhood: men do not assume I'm a prostitute. Remember that next time you feel bad about looking like a mom.
(Disclaimer: I have not actually asked the two women and one transgendered man if they are prostitutes, so I could be making false assumptions. But in this neighborhood, shorts that short and heels that high usually indicate this, as well as being very impractical attire for the half mile they walk over and over. So I'm guessing. But maybe they volunteer at the nursing home down the street and like to stretch their legs. I couldn't say for sure, and it seems rude to ask.)
So far, the minivan has felt like a safety valve. I can walk where I want, but I have the van as back-up. It feels good to have back-up. It also means we could all ride to church together for the first time in ages on Sunday. I would like to tell you that I celebrated the occasion by being perfectly patient and serene during the getting-ready-for-church, Sunday-morning chaos.
I would like to tell you that.
So. Anyway. This is our life now. The van is scarred on one side from an old side-swiping accident, which is the only thing that distinguishes it from any other minivan. It is how our friends will grow to recognize our new vehicle (I have named the van Clara, which I privately pronounce as assonant with "scar"). It's not a bad way to recognize the Mitchell family, really. Banged up, but still useful.
Yeah. That'll do.