9.19.2011

motoring full-speed ahead on the road of life

There we were, driving in our new SUV with the windows rolled down. Audrey was in her car seat, munching on Cheerios. I was snapping at Chris' every touch to turn up the volume and remind him “to keep it down for the baby.”

He sighed, looked at me with a gravy-thick pout and said, “I'm just an SUV dad now, huh?”

Both of us stared out the large, sparkling windshield and momentarily drifted away. Drifted to a time where we would blast Def Leppard and I would cozy up next to him in his pickup after a spontaneous date night. A night when we were still awake at 10 p.m.

I thought about the recent selling of my five-speed Honda, which I'd had since high school. Bumper stickers, CD mixes, old pictures attached to the visor and a travel makeup supply were replaced with a car-seat viewing mirror, a large selection of snacks, a DVD player that plays Clifford on repeat and a “Baby on Board” sticker.

I went back to the day we went car shopping. The salesman just looked at us and knew — a young married couple, toddler and snack pack of Cheerios. “Mini van?” he asked. “No!” we both barked. “SUV,” I said.

We talked cargo space, child safety locks and extra seats for the kids for hours.

Audrey's tantrum snapped us both back to reality and I turned around to hand her more Cheerios. I could visualize all the back seats filled with children screaming, “Are we there yet?” I could see annoyed teenagers with their iPods plugged in and cell phones at hand. Soccer teams and play-date car pools.

“Yep, SUV dad and soccer mom,” I finally replied. “A lot can happen in two years,” he said.

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary this month. In the past two years, we've done about everything a couple could do. We got married, bought a home, had a baby and, recently, upgraded to the family-friendly automobile.

Being a parent can consume your life. It is the biggest blessing, but at the same time, you don't have a moment to say goodbye to the magazine subscription of Cosmopolitan that was replaced with Parents and Good Housekeeping. Goodbye to your quiet hours of sipping coffee in the morning, replaced with cartoons and cleaning bananas out of hair. Goodbye to the spontaneous date nights that didn't require finding a babysitter. And goodbye to the little race car that was replaced with a seven-seated four-wheel drive.

I never imagined that Cheerios would start running my life. They are in my purse, my car, my diaper bag, my house and every house that Audrey visits. They are in the cracks of the couch, corners of the house and even in the lawn.

While it may be in my motherly nature to make these lifestyle adaptations with ease, my tough logger of a husband has had to find his soft side.

When Chris pictured his future family years ago, he probably didn't imagine carrying a pink diaper bag, cleaning poop out of the bathtub or driving an SUV to the tunes of Disney.

We've both had to make changes, say goodbye to things of the past and proceed down the path of grown-up life.

But we can still get a babysitter and easily snap back into the rugged logger and city girl couple that we are behind Mom and Dad, turn up the music, cuddle up in the dirty pickup and maybe stay up until 9:30 p.m.

Nothing could have prepared us for transforming into the SUV dad and soccer mom, but now that we're here, it isn't so bad.

“At least I didn't get the mini van,” I chuckled to him. 

You can also read this online at The News-Review.

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