Homemaking, Motherhood, Travel

When You Have to Actually Clean Your Van

Finally! I can return to the blogosphere (do we still call it that?) after an interminably long hiatus. My computer sustained a terrible injury and had to be practically rebuilt… literally. The poor, wonderful, incredibly patient man who repaired it had to replace nearly every single piece of hardware in it. I’m reminded of a topic discussed at length in one of my college philosophy classes. If a ship is replaced board by board over a period of many years until eventually no original wood is left, is it still the same ship?

Rebuilt computers are not the topic of the day, though. Today I’m here to discuss my vehicle. I drive the ultimate Mom Car: a minivan. Tonight I am going out with a group of ladies to eat… together… in a restaurant… without our kids. I am very excited BUT I was also asked to drive. I knew this meant removing three car seats from the back of the van, which isn’t my favorite thing to do, but worth it this time, right?

I just finished a complete van overhaul, though. Upon removal of said car seats, it was realized that I had to make an actual conversion from Kidmobile to real vehicle that grown women can ride in. Granted, these are also all moms of young children and would be okay with sitting beside old sunglasses, some crayons, three socks and a Paw Patrol watch, but I thought it would be nice to actually ride in a seat that wasn’t sticky.

It’s not that we are gross people, I promise. While cleaning is not exactly my forte, I do do it. Our house may not always be tidy but I do my best to keep it clean. Maybe I don’t mop my floors quite every day… or week… oooorrrr month………………

But we don’t live in squalor by any means. Just a standard home where three preschoolers live.

In the past I have had friends who wanted to “confide” in me about how dirty their floors were and would say in very ashamed voices: “I didn’t even get my floor mopped yesterday and it’s been TWO WEEKS!” To which I reply, very succinctly:

Anyway, since we don’t LIVE in our van, it just doesn’t get cleaned as often. Not only do I not notice the mess as much, but my four-year-old who sits in the very back can buckle himself, so I truly don’t go back there. I mean, it is literally just a vehicle to get us from place to place… like toast is a glorified utensil to help us eat peanut butter, honey, avocado or jam. No one notices the toast. No one notices the state of the van. We get in, we get out. We leave bits of paper and sucker sticks behind. No one gets hurt.

Sure, it gets the occasional treatment. A swipe of crumbs here, a collection of shoes there. Sometimes I do what my mom used to call a “misht”. It’s a dutch word and my sources (hi, Grandma!) tell me it means “manure”. But growing up, we used it in the context of clearing things out. “Go misht the van” meant go clear out the cups, shoes, socks, gum wrappers, books, toys, papers, and other random stuff that vehicles mysteriously collect, but not to truly clean it.

So, when I dove into the depths of our van today… let’s just say it was dirty. The mishting process found CDs, craft projects, extra clothing, a hat, a jacket, multiple socks, a child’s swim suit, a princess skirt, a legal pad full of grocery lists, some earphones, some silverware, a water bottle, and a few other things… including a Fruit Loop, which I literally have not purchased since before I got married so WHO CAN EXPLAIN THAT ONE?

After the removal of large objects you could notice the dirt. Specifically, the sand. Enough sand that when my son asked to go to the beach last week I could have just suggested he go play in the van. Enough leaves to make a skirt. And enough crumbs that I question if any of my kids have ever actually eaten any of the snacks I’ve given them.

I tackled the carpet with our poor, ill-equipped vacuum. A rag and cleaning spray struggled – and failed, most of the time – to get dark spots out of the upholstery. However, on the bright side, the orange marker that decorated one of the cup holders came right off!

I’m going to admit here, in this safe space called the Internet, that once I approached the driver’s seat I considered not cleaning it. After all, I was the one that would be sitting there tonight and no one would have to know. It also did not have any mysterious sticky substances clinging to it. I want to say that this hesitancy was a great example of my bent towards efficiency, but it was actually just me being really sick of vacuuming a van.

Relax, I cleaned it.

Did I mention all three kids were trying to help, and as fast as I sucked sand up, more sand appeared? Who knew sand could procreate like that?!

But finally, it is clean. There’s nothing that is in there that doesn’t normally belong in a van besides the dark chocolate that I keep hidden in my door pocket for emergencies. The ladies will ride with me tonight in style, aside from the mysterious dark brown blotch on the back of one of the seats. And some dirt in spots that my vacuum hose couldn’t reach, because my children lost the attachment that allows you to clean small spaces. Oops.

And, because I’m frugal and there were SO MANY CRUMBS, dinner is handled for my husband and kids tonight, so it’s a win-win!

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