The Joys of Schlepping your kid
Never underestimate how wonderful it is to drive with your kid in the car. It will be over soon enough.
By Janis Hirsch
You know which women I worry about besides the ones who think their lower back tattoo is still going to be hot when it’s peeking out of Depends?
I worry about the millions of women out there without enough stress in their lives. Oh sure, their demands at work increase as their salaries decrease; their family obligations grow exponentially as their time and tolerance dwindle to a trickle; and am I alone in stressing over the fact that the waistband of my jeans now divides an upper belly from a lower belly?
But that’s all entry-level stress. Anxiety 101.
For anyone wanting to experience real stress, I suggest putting a child in the backseat of your car. And please, make it your own child, although driving a friend of your child or a young relative is terrifying, too. Or if you’re one of those gals who likes to dress up as a maternity nurse, sneak out the hospital with someone else’s bundle of joy and drive back roads across state lines, I imagine your stress level is sky high too.
The first car ride with my son was when he was a little more than a day old but claims he still remembers the indignity. (He’s that bright!) We were leaving the hospital and my husband got the car ready. No matter what you think you know, trust me on this: installing an infant car seat is only slightly less difficult than performing cardiothoracic surgery while drunk. And answer me this. How did my husband think that the carrier should tip forward so as to strap our baby into the “swimmers, on your mark” position?
Neither of us could figure out how to fix it which marked the first time our boy heard the phrase “Just because Mommy and Daddy are fighting doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” Although at that exact moment in time, we didn’t. We drove home with me sprawled across his baby-lap so as to hold his seat down. We looked like Madonna and Child, only the other way around.
The first time you drive alone with your kid may be the craziest any woman ever is behind the wheel, and I realize I’m setting the bar extremely high. He’s facing backwards so you can’t see him. He sleeps a lot but you can’t yet tell the difference between sleepy-time and has-a-tennis-ball-lodged-in-his-throat-time. I seriously considered asking the woman in the car next to me at a stoplight to take a look.
The only thing worse than a quiet baby is a crying at the top-of-his-lungs baby. No matter how late your baby learns to roll over or sit up, rest assured that all babies are born with the innate ability to shriek like my Aunt Estelle when she heard the Son of Sam was Jewish the second you get on the freeway or get stuck in traffic.
Not only will you cry, plead, bargain with God and lactate like a fire hose at the sound of his cries but you’ll also get that much closer to stress-induced early-onset coronary artery disease. So there’s that.
Pretty soon, you’ll be able to ride with your kid facing front in a real car seat. Congratulations on making it this far without being institutionalized! One day shortly after reaching this milestone, we were on the way to preschool. Because I am such a devoted and diligent mom and not the Hollywood kind of devoted and diligent mom who carries her kid in public but in private can’t always place his face, I strapped my son securely into the car seat. Alas, what I didn’t secure was the car seat to the car, which I discovered when I made my turn off our street. The car seat — with Charlie strapped in it — tipped over onto its side. He looked like a fighter pilot being ejected, if a fighter pilot were 3. There was no place to stop for a good minute or two, during which I tried to keep him calm while repeating the word “%#@&*” 25,000 times.
As your children get older, your stress level decreases. Gotcha! No, it doesn’t. Not by a mile.