There Is Beauty in a Disgustingly Messy Minivan

by ParentCo. August 31, 2016

While my childhood dream job to become an archeologist ultimately gave way to the more mainstream goal of pursuing a legal career, I discovered this week that the childhood dream is actually still alive!

No, I didn’t jet off to some exotic site in Europe in search of treasure from unknown civilizations. Nope, this dig actually took place in my own driveway. This dig was a major excavation ... of my minivan’s trunk.

Just thinking about the the project gave me a case of the dry-heaves. The hectic life of ferrying two busy teenagers around for ice hockey, baseball, theatre roles, and assorted lessons, resulted in 33,000 miles on a brand new car, in a single year. Not to mention an inordinate amount of shit in the trunk. Amidst the chaos and pace of this schedule, the perfect time to clean out your trunk never arises, but an impending trip imposed an urgency on the mission.

Taking a cue from the archeologists’ handbook, I began with a brisk survey of the site, sizing up the scope and logistics of the job. I approached armed with a mother’s greatest trifecta of weapons – a fistful of green garbage bags, a set of oversized bins, a tub of disinfectant wipes – and set about disassembling the strata of rubble occupying my trunk.

The excavated minivan fossils included:

The Chipotle bag from last week’s dinner en route to the game. If you think guacamole looks hideous after an hour sitting out, image how it looks after a week of riding around in a hot car.

Audition materials for my daughter’s latest role, complete with sheet music and crumpled scripts. Oh, and a Target bag holding only the tags from the shorts purchased when she realized upon signing in (surprise!) that there was a dance portion and she would need a costume change.

Remnants of an out-of-town hockey tournament. Outgrown elbow pads reeking of the most uniquely disgusting odor (think 3 months of accumulated, chilled 14-year-old boy sweat), and a stiff, chlorine-infused bathing suit from the hotel pool preserved in a plastic bag.

Packages of Christmas tree ornaments I'd evidently intended to return when I placed them in the trunk. Along with rejected gifts from under the Christmas tree, return dates now long gone.

The lawn chair I lugged to fall baseball games. Now nestled tightly alongside the back-up cleats for those times we arrive at the baseball field only to discover that one of us (not me) has failed to wear shoes.

An assortment of my son’s athletic supporter cups, some still encrusted with infield dirt.

Back-to-school binders and folders purchased by me and shunned by my kids as "way too nerdy.”

The freaking ballet slipper that was a no-show at the recital.

A few errant flip-flops, sandy bottles of sunscreen, and a pool noodle.

Jumper cables that had been the first thing placed in my new car!

If the Society for Historical Archeology is correct that, “...historical archaeology is more than just a treasure hunt. It is a challenging search for clues to the people, events, and places of the past,” what in the hell would an archeologist make of the collection of family history rattling around in my Sienna’s trunk? Surely future generations would wonder what kind of twisted people inhabited this place, littered with everything from Christmas decorations to baseball jock cups, to jumper cables?

But this is the life of the modern mom, manager of an active docket, and curator of kids’ busy lives. My vehicle doubles as an office or a makeshift kitchen table. My driver’s license is sometimes more utilized than my law degree. My life is too full to make time for cleaning out the trunk on a regular basis.

So while the shit storm that is my minivan may be maddening, I know that these precious days with my children – captive in the car with me and on our way to the next activity – are fleeting. These are the good old days. Right here, right now. And as gross as our rolling archeological dig may be, it's better to smell the figurative roses of dance recitals and baseball games, than to give a second thought to rotting guacamole.



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