When you become a mother, unless you have the super-mom tendencies of Martha Stewart and Heidi Klum combined, you find that many things go by the wayside. For some, it means dried up nails and house plants. To others, it means piles of unfolded laundry and dusty shelves. For me, the more often I taxi my kids around, the more the inside of my car resembles a circus after it comes to town. No matter how hard I try, my car gets out of hand. Even after cleaning it out, two carpools later, I’m finding fruit snack wrappers, half-empty water bottles, leaves, pennies, random crumbs, dog toys,  and smashed granola bars on the floor. Just the other day, I opened the trash can compartment in the backseat and thought I’d die when I found doll underpants stuck to two pieces of ABC gum. (ABC, as in Already Been Chewed.) Not real underpants, but those that belong to American Girl Doll-sized dolls. (These just so happened to be no-name-brand Target doll under-garments.) And I digress.

So while my kids were playing at friends’ houses recently, I took it upon myself to do what I’ve desperately needed to do for weeks. Vacuum the inside of my car. Something has to be said about car vacuums at gas stations. They sound like an airplane and suck up everything in their path, including the exact coins you need to operate them. The great thing about gas station car vacuums is they only last five minutes. And the bad thing about gas station car vacuums is they only last five minutes.

So, you do all you can do and vacuum as fast as you can. Just when you get to the hard-to-reach crumbs and leaves in the way back seat, all you hear is, “Beep, beep, beeeeeeeeeeeep.”  The blanket-blank timer goes off. And you’re stressing that you only have 55 seconds left. You’re out of quarters because it accidentally sucked them up along with a “Good Wash” car wash receipt that fell off of the dash. The vacuum hose is only as long as your leg, so now I’m whisper-shouting profanities because it doesn’t stretch to the other side unless I turn my entire body a certain way.

“Oh, you son-of-a. No, no, no. Please, don’t turn off. You little…..Please, stay on, I’m almost done.” (As if the hose can understand me?) “Beeeeeeeeeeep.” As soon as I stretch the vacuum hose and my entire body to the other side of the car, I realize the contents of my purse have fallen on the floor, and unless I want my car keys to get sucked up, I better move it to the dash. But I only have 45 seconds left. And I’m completely out of quarters. God help me if anyone is witnessing this train wreck.

“No way, Yesssss.,” I shout. I’ve found a quarter on the floor, which buys me a few more seconds. I feel like a rock star. (An a-la-Judd-Nelson demented and sad star, but a rock star no less.) I do realize I could drive back home and gather loose change and come back a lot less stressed. But this would make too much sense. As soon as I’d get home, the motivation to take on this dreaded chore would fade. I’ll be distracted by other tasks and have to procrastinate about it for another month.

The buzzer goes off for real this time. The entire machine stops. I can actually hear myself talking to myself. So I shush up, and take a look around the seats.

“Not bad.”  I can actually see the floor of my car again. Yeah! My car is clean. (Or at least passable until the next carpool.)