About Me

San Francisco, California
I am Ethan and Chase's Mama and my man's Sugar. I have flown a plane, driven a race car, and been pushed out of a train. I have swum with dolphins, climbed the Untersberg, and thrown tortillas in more than one location. I have great arms and a law degree. I hate housework. I can't iron. I love my dustbuster because I occasionally allow my kids to eat off of the floors. I wish I were taller and for my boys to grow up in a peaceful world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I took Ethan to the carwash today. I felt mildly guilty about it, spending the money I mean. I could have saved $20 by scrubbing my car myself, but it is cold outside. And I am lazy.

I talked myself into having someone else wash my car by believing it would be fun for Ethan. There is a reason why carwashes allow people to watch the washing, right? It is cool to see the car drive itself through the mechanized tunnel of shooting water and sudsy soap. I thought Ethan would get a kick out of it and I might knock out 15 minutes of my day having someone else entertain him.

In fact, Ethan loved watching the car washing. Cars drove themselves into the tunnel. Then, after the initial rinse and soap application, four men in rubber boots and aprons scrubbed down the car. As car after car moved along, the men stooped and scrubbed, getting a break only long enough for the first car to enter the rinse area and the next car to scoot along the conveyer belt between them. Maybe 30 seconds. It looked like hard work. It was obviously tedious and probably cold on a day like today. These guys have to get wet, and it did not look like the tunnel sheilded them much from the wind.

Ethan smiled at the men working in the tunnel. They smiled back. They engaged with him in the seconds they had between car washes. Ethan pointed and waved. They made silly faces.

Next to us at the window, two young kids watched a portable DVD player and goofed off. A woman came up behind them. She was short, even shorter than I am. At almost 5 foot 3, I was a good head taller than she was. The woman opened up a plastic grocery store bag and took out some grapes. She told the boys to eat their lunch and then noticed me watching her. "They're out of school today," she said apologetically while smoothing one of the boy's hair.

I gave her my best oh no! Gotta deal with the kids, eh? I hear ya! look. I asked, "which holiday do they have today?"

"It's spring break, " she responded, then turned back to her boys to spend the time she had on her lunch break with them.

I felt terrible for all the times I have resented my stay-at-home motherhood. I know that my life, not working outside the home and still with plenty of childcare options, is my life. Her life is different, which is nothing I should feel terrible about. Still, I had brought my son to the car wash for fun. For 15 minutes. Her kids had to sit there. All day.

I went outside with Ethan to watch the workers touch up and dry the car. It looked beautiful, shiny and reflecting the cold sun's rays off of the sleek red finish. I was proud of my car, glad to have such a luxury.

The last woman who dried my car held up her towel, signalling that it was ready to go. I bustled over with my toddler on my right hip, my diaper bag slung over my left shoulder and my purse hooked over my left wrist. I still had to get my claim check out of my purse somehow. I plopped Ethan down in the back seat. The woman smiled big at Ethan. She cooed at him while I rummaged through my purse. "What is his name?" she asked.

"Ethan," I told her.

"Beautiful name, " she smiled. "How old is he?"

"Just one year, " I said. Officially, he's 13 months. Most parents use months when telling a child's age under two. I am so grateful for making it through the first year, however, that I keep saying "one year" over and over, like some comforting self-validation.

"My son is one year too," she said. "His name is Sebastian."

"Beautiful name, " I said, and handed her the tip and claim check. She kept smiling. Then she turned to get a new towel to start drying, drying, drying, the next car.

Feel lucky, I told myself. Then I felt bad. Why should I need reminders to feel lucky? Why at someone else's expense? This mother did not seem unhappy, just as the mom inside had not, just as the men who made silly faces at Ethan (maybe missing their little ones at home? maybe just nice guys) had not seemed to resent their repetitive jobs in the wash tunnel.

Maybe they look at me, without a paying job, balancing - but badly - a toddler, a diaper bag, and a purse, and think to themselves, feel lucky.

1 comment:

  1. I love your perspective and honesty SugarMama. It helps me to remember how fortunate I am in life.