I want a motorcycle. I really do. But what I want it for is the funny part. I’d like to have a motorcycle to drive to “the gym” (you know, the one that’s just for ladies…). Why does one need a motorcycle to drive to the gym, you ask? Because my other option is the mini-van, and although the air-conditioning, CD player, and cozy leather seats are a plus, I find having to go work out in a gym filled with sweaty, middle-aged women demoralizing enough in its own right. I don’t need the used, gray mini-van to kick me when I’m down. Did I mention that I bought the van from my mom?
So when does this happen in a mother’s life? When does a woman get to the point where her former self is so far in the distant past that she hurls at the speed of light towards what feels very much like a man’s mid-life crisis? For me it’s occurring at the nexus of several milestones. First and foremost, as of the winter of 2008, I no longer have any living grandparents. In much the same way that I viscerally felt myself slide one notch up the mortality ladder upon the birth of my first child, I once again felt that jolt when my parents became orphaned senior citizens.
Then there’s the seven year itch. This August will mark my seventh wedding anniversary, and although I’m in no way itching to quit the habit that is my amazing husband, I am itching for something – I just can’t put my finger on what that something is.
To make matters infinitely worse, my daughter is four, my son is two, and my body would like another baby. Did I say like? My body is trying desperately to convince my mind that it must have another baby now! While there is no way that my mind will lose this argument, due partly to the fact that my husband wants nothing to do with the idea of more children, nature is a powerful opponent. It’s amazing what millions of years of evolution can do to mess with the psyche of the average suburban house-mom.
So I’ve decided I need that motorcycle.
I can’t say that this is the first time I’ve felt this way. Growing up in a rural town in Pennsylvania necessitated that I be pigeon-holed into a stereotype at an early age, a stereotype which I was expected to comply with for the duration of my time in captivity – i.e. until college. It was very easy to figure out what was expected of me because of those who came before me. My mother, the town doctor (yes, the only one), had been voted Most Likely to Succeed. My brother, the scholar athlete, had been voted Most Likely to Succeed. And although my uncle never did very well in school, he was, in fact, the town’s Chief of Police. That sure does make it hard to stray from the straight and narrow.
So what is a girl to do when she is clearly destined for one thing – a teenage life of straight “A”‘s and evenings alone?
She gets a mustang.
My first car was a mustang convertible: 5 liter V8 engine, dual exhaust, power roof, and 0 – 60 so fast you lost your hat. I’d throw that baby in neutral going past the school and rev the engine, Green Day blasting in the background – sometimes Metallica for added effect. I was sure that when I drove that car down main street I was telling the town, forget band camp. I’m tough. Life’s not so bad.
The only problem – the motorheads. They knew better than to think for a second that I could hang with them. My beautiful baby immediately became known as the teacup mustang. What was it? Perhaps the white leather seats. Or maybe the metallic green paint. No – it was the automatic transmission, the kiss of death in the hot rod world. There it was for the world to see. I was just a poser.
And here I am, thirteen years after being voted Most Likely to Succeed, I think I need a motorcycle to somehow quickly speed me through this life of diaper changing, crayon mark scrubbing, laundry folding, suburban mom drudgery. What I should take the time to appreciate, I now realize, is that just as my simple days in a rural town, protected by the doctor, the cop, and the not-so-bad big brother went by too quickly, so will my time at home with my kids, these days when I’m still counting wedding anniversaries in single digits, and when I have the good health to drive myself to the gym.
So for now I’ll forget about the motorcycle. I’ll compromise. That mustang, teacup or not, is coming out of storage and spending some time in my garage while the van hugs the curb for a month or two. And I’ll appreciate those few nights that I get to take off on my own, the top down, Green Day tape still scratching along. Yeah, life’s not so bad.