Assumptions I Make About Other Honda Odyssey Drivers Based On Model Year

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2018

Fully loaded: Our first baby is on the way! We are just SO excited to become parents. This is such a magical time! We finished the nursery this past weekend. Have I shown you pictures yet? No? Hold on. Let me get my phone.

Base model: Peed on a pregnancy test at 4:45 a.m. and discovered we’re going to have a third kid. I don’t even know how to break the news to my spouse. I was at the dealership before they even opened because this is absolutely a panic purchase. I’m sure I’ll have regrets and if I’m being honest right now, I’m not sure if I’m talking about the minivan or the third kid.

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2017

I haven’t slept through the night in 18 months and I can’t remember the last time I brushed my teeth. I’m only out driving around right now because we sprung for the fancy integrated DVD player and it’s the one thing that makes the baby stop crying.

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2016

I have an infant and a toddler and probably a preschooler, too, and I have to lug them in and out of this car an unbelievable number of times each day and do you know how heavy that bucket car seat is so you can pry my sliding passenger doors from my cold, dead hands. Andy! Help me get the double stroller loaded in the back of the van!

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2015

These spill-proof sippy cups really aren’t spill-proof. How can they even claim they’re spill-proof? They totally spill! The label should read, will do a pretty okay job of not spilling. Related, do you smell something weird in here? I definitely smell something weird in here. This van is starting to smell weird.

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2014

Yes! Sure! I can totally drive us all. Give me a minute though. I just want to get some blankets from the back to cover up all of the seats. I would hate for you to get a stain on your pants or something.

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2013

With clean rims: We refuse to give up on a life of order and cleanliness even though we are drowning in kids and their detritus.

With filthy rims: We have completely given up on a life of order and cleanliness because we are drowning in kids and their detritus. Park the van outside the garage so it will get clean the next time it rains.

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2012

I drive approximately 750 miles each week hauling my kids to all of their places. We LIVE out of this car. I could cook a three-course meal for our entire soccer team out of the back. I even rigged a Keurig to run off of the cigarette lighter. Oh, is that a bug bite on your arm? Let me see if I’ve got something in the trunk for that.

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2011

This car has seen some shit. Specifically from that one road trip back home from the beach when two of the three kids had a stomach bug. We’re DEFINITELY leasing next time. No question.

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2010

We are only two years away from being DONE with car seats and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go buy a brand new vehicle just to put booster seats in it again. I don’t know what that light is that just came on on the dashboard but I don’t care. I am limping across the finish line with this minivan, crevices full of Lego pieces and Cheetos and that stain that looks like blood but is probably just a melted lollipop from the doctor’s office.

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2009

Both sliding doors on this thing broke two years ago but it’s okay because the kids are old enough to just climb in and out through the back hatch. And, it’s a good thing that back hatch still works because I’m not spending a penny more fixing this minivan if what we’re fixing isn’t absolutely essential to the operation of the vehicle.

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2008

I can haul anything you need hauled. Need me to take that old dishwasher to the dump? Sure! That sofa you bought on Craigslist? Let me grab some bungee cords! A dozen ferrets not in cages? Not a problem! My minivan is so destroyed from a decade of kids that nothing could possibly make it grosser. Let me help you with that mulch!

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2007

We had to send our kid to private school for Reasons and even though we were totally going to get a new car this year, the tuition is killing us so we’re going to wait for a bit.

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2006

Our teenager is driving now so we handed this down to them but I’m deeply conflicted because while there’s nothing even remotely attractive about driving a minivan, I’m very aware that there’s a whoooooooole lot of room in the back when that third row is folded flat.

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2005

This van just sits in our driveway for long stretches and the air conditioning no longer works but we’re keeping it around specifically to haul the kids and their crap to and from college. Have you seen how much stuff fits in the back of this thing when the third row is folded flat?

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2004

If I park my minivan underneath this obviously diseased tree and a big storm comes through…

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2003 or earlier

I basically discovered minivans before minivans were a Thing. Have I told you how many miles I’ve logged with this baby? I mean, I didn’t even change the timing belt until 205K. Are you on any of the Ody Club forum web pages? No? Just in case, I’ll give you my handle.

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Anyone driving a Honda Pilot, regardless of model year

We’re not really “Minivan People,” per se. That’s why we drive an SUV. Even though our SUV is, like, two feet of cargo space away from literally being a minivan. But, it’s not a minivan. It’s an SUV. Because we’re cool.

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My Feelings, They Are Complicated

I had a commitment this week that took me away from home for a couple of days in a row – gone from mid-morning until dinnertime – leaving Bob at home with the kids. I’ll be gone in a similar fashion this coming weekend when I head south to visit friends in our old town. Neither obligation takes me away from home for a substantive amount of time by any means so you’d think I’d feel less guilty about being gone. I don’t. I still feel terrible about leaving for an entire weekend. Like, I’m somehow skipping out on my duties.

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I consistently surprise and frustrate myself at the amount of guilt I can muster up over having outside responsibilities and interests that leave Bob bearing the brunt of the childcare and household chores in my absence. I inevitably find myself fighting this deep-seated mom guilt every time I head out the door to do something that’s just for me. Whether it’s antiquing in town or dinner with friends or even just daily exercise, I feel bad that I’ve left Bob to manage the kids and all of their needs.

I have no idea why I feel this way and have no idea how to stop feeling this way.

Every time I’m getting ready to leave the house, I grill Bob on whether or not he’s alright with my absence. Over and over, I repeat my questions, “Are you sure you’re okay taking care of the kids while I’m gone? Maybe running to the grocery store since we’re out of milk and kid carbs? Think you could handle that? Maybe? Is it asking too much?” I mean, I’m ridiculous. The whole dialogue is ridiculous!

Also, ultimately, a double standard.

Bob doesn’t nudge me awake every morning at 5:15 when he leaves for work to ask, “Hey, you sure you’re alright to watch the kids today? It won’t be too much on you to care for three small children for the next twelve hours, will it? To make three square meals and two half-hearted snacks? To wipe faces and hands clean of crumbs and peanut butter? To empty and reload the dishwasher of the same cereal bowls, IKEA plastic plates and juice glasses? Can you handle sweeping the floor in a Sisyphean cycle of despair? To finally deal with that crumpled load of sheets in the dryer that you’ve been ignoring because folding fitted sheets is still the absolute worst? And, don’t forget about homework, okay? Everyone will cry but you just have to persevere, alright? Are you sure you can take three kids to that eye appointment where you’ll all be crammed into a tiny room for way too long while everyone complains that they’re hungry? And, you haven’t forgotten that you’ll have to take them to soccer practice after that have you? Expect that one of them will have to use the suspicious porta-potty next to the parking lot, okay?”

Bob certainly doesn’t ask, “You sure you can handle all of that plus a hundred other things that will arise throughout the course of the day?”

So, why do I ask those questions of him? Why do I fret so much about what he can and cannot deal with? Why do I handle his lone wolf parenting with the most gentle of expectations? I have literally walked out the door before, looked at Bob and said, “Just keep them alive, okay?” Like, somehow, I’m the only one that can do what I do. Which is true, but also, not, you know? Bob is an extremely capable parent that deserves to be categorized a few notches above “babysitter” when I’m not around.

One of the side effects of all of this is that I’ll curb my time away if I feel like I’ve been gone too long or if I think he might be getting exhausted at home or if it’s close to dinner time and I know he could use my help. I abort my time off in deference to what he may or may not be going through with the kids in my absence. Which is kind of sweet in that marriage-y way but also totally sucks for me at the same time.

It’s all just so complicated.

I suspect all of this is a result of being a stay-at-home mom. It’s because mommying is my “job.” I’m the default parent. All day, every day. But, Bob has a job and even he gets guilt-free paid vacation days. Why should I feel any different about my vacation days? Why do they have to come with so many qualifiers and concerns and military-style logistics to ease his burden?

I have so many questions and not nearly enough answers. I think, ultimately, I need to learn how to walk out the door without so much guilt. Without any guilt. Without worry about what Bob can handle and how the kids will behave and will the house still be standing upon my return.

Instead of asking earnestly, “Are you sure you’ll be okay, Bob,” I need to learn to say, “Listen, let’s acknowledge that there’s a slight risk I won’t come home tonight. And, you’ll be just fine.”

In the Parking Lot

The first spring and summer we spent in Richmond, we ate out frequently; usually at the big town center that was, conveniently, located just up the street from our new house. Millie wasn’t really mobile yet and therefore tolerated being confined to a restaurant high chair for the duration of a meal. So, we took full advantage of the small window we had before she knew how much more fun life was on the other side of walking upright. The town center has lots of restaurants with patio seating, plenty of open space for the bigger kids to roam and all of our favorite stores, so it was a fun destination for the whole family in those first few months.

One Saturday afternoon, as we were walking through the parking lot back to our car after grabbing a bite out at the mall, we heard a child screaming. Not the kind of screaming that comes from being hurt or injured but more the kind of persistent, perpetual shrieking that emanates from a massive temper tantrum. As we got closer and closer to our minivan, the hollering got louder and louder. It was definitely a temper tantrum but ramped up to, like, one hundred. When we arrived at the car, we realized we were parked just a couple of (empty) spaces away from the source of all of that distress: a mom trying to handle her very, very upset young child.

Now, as the parent of three kids, a total meltdown isn’t something I’m unaccustomed to. The tears, the dramatic fall to the floor, maybe a little flailing, even the occasional biting. I get it. Kids don’t have control over much and their outbursts are their way of saying, “this fact sucks.” However, this woman’s little girl was simply beside herself. She was sobbing and thrashing and uncontrollable. I watched the mom try unsuccessfully a couple of times to close the latch on her daughter’s carseat harness only to have her daughter do that thing that kids do where they buck their hips to pop out of the seat and avoid capture. It appeared they had been carrying on in this manner for awhile.

As the yelling continued several feet from us, Bob and I gave each other a knowing glance that wordlessly exclaimed, “SO glad that’s not our kid,” and went about the tedious process of securing three children, a large stroller and assorted bags of purchases and leftover food in our car. Since that process isn’t lightning quick, the scene in the SUV next door had a chance to unfold a bit further. By the time Bob had climbed into the driver’s seat of our car, things between the mom and her daughter had become impossible. By now, the woman was on her cell phone, in frustrated tears, explaining to the person on the other end of the line that she couldn’t get her daughter buckled into her carseat. From the one side of the conversation I could hear, I surmised that she was talking to her husband since she repeatedly requested that he leave the game he was at with their other child to come to the mall to help her.

At this point, seeing the distress between both of them, my internal eye-rolling at the girl’s behavior turned to genuine concern. You could tell that both of them were in a bad, bad place. There was so much crying and so much behavior past the point of being even remotely rational.

It felt wrong to drive away from that scene. So, in a distinct departure from my history of avoiding all awkward situations, I walked over and asked the mom if there was anything I could do to help. It took a few seconds for my presence to register so I repeated my question. She avoided eye contact but tearfully explained that she couldn’t get her daughter into her carseat. I remember reassuring her that it was all okay. Explaining and empathizing that I knew how difficult kids can be. Then, I told her to stay there, next to her daughter and her daughter’s carseat, while I walked around to the other side of her car and climbed in the rear passenger seat. As a complete stranger, I terrified the little girl when I introduced myself and explained that I was going to help her mom get her buckled in. But, we persevered through the tantrum and between the two of us, we were able to get the girl in place and the carseat straps secured.

I climbed back out and headed around towards our car, where Bob sat puzzled at the delay. The mom didn’t say a word. I could see she was taking deep breaths and trying to collect herself. Possibly a little embarrassed. By the time we backed out of our parking space, she was already driving away.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the story of the mom in the parking lot with anyone before. Mostly, because it feels so personal and the situation itself was so dramatic. I wasn’t sure if I could properly convey how desperate it all seemed. But, if I’m being honest here, I probably haven’t shared it because it hits so close to home in a really uncomfortable way. That mom looked like me. Her daughter was acting just how my kids act. I could have easily been in that situation. Her behavior mirrored how I know I’ve reacted to problems in the past. It’s tough to witness what one must look like when all reasonableness gets pushed aside.

Because, as parents, we’ve all been there. At one time or another. That place of no return. Peppered with problems and barraged with issues and in-fighting, tears and tantrums and why won’t you stop talking and who peed on the floor and what is that smell and who broke this thing over here and did ANY of your food actually make it into your mouth and it just piles on and on and on until… BLAMMO! That final push over the edge, like a car in a cartoon suspended halfway over a cliff, a little girl that refuses to get into her carseat, and it’s all over. The train goes off the tracks. We just can’t deal anymore.

It’s been an interesting and trying few weeks around our house. My children are wonderful, delightful little people that demand all of my time, most of my energy and every last bit of my patience. Some days are amazing. Other days head in the wrong direction from the minute they wake up and emerge from their rooms. Every day is an opportunity to keep the train on the tracks.

This parenthood business is brutal but beautiful. Solidarity, sister in the parking lot. No judgement here.