I wrote this before I went into labor and was unable to post it, it’s still something my brain is doing.
When the boy was born we very carefully buckled him into the center back seat of our little car and drove home from the hospital immersed in that surreal feeling that comes from just walking out of the maternity ward with a baby as the nurses at the station wave back at you. There were no papers to sign, no permission slips to fill out, they just let us go home with a person. That was one of the strangest and slowest drives we have ever been on.
When the girl was born and we finally left the house we strapped her into the middle seat again, because that is of course the safest in case of a collision. But then there was the dilemma of what to do with the boy. Did we move him to the side seat next to her? What if someone hit us on that side? What if we put him on the other side instead and got hit on that side? We could always put him in the center of that very back seat, we were now driving a minivan, but is that really safer, and would his two-year-old self protest the imagined exile?
Now we haven’t got a minivan anymore, we have exactly 5 seats. That means, when the baby comes, if we put the baby seat in the middle, both of the other children will be on the sides of the car, vulnerable to broadsides and telephone poles and flying glass? I feel like I’m juggling with their lives sometimes. Why is the baby in the safest place, is the 3 year old really that much more likely to survive in an outside seat than an infant? Am I playing favorites, transferring my maternal protectiveness from one to the other as they get older? The Girl is still so tiny, I don’t want her sitting somewhere less safe than she is now, but there isn’t really a choice, is there?
The solution to all of these mental gymnastics of course would be to realize that that middle seat isn’t really that much safer than any other seat and so I may as well put the baby there because it’s easier to reach from the front when they start fussing, but then I may go completely nuts and just not let them drive anywhere, ever, because without my illusion of safety I won’t be able to let them in the car.
I now understand why my MILly drives an SUV, besides the fact that she has 8 kids to carpool around and is therefore not one of those people driving down the freeway all alone in an 8 passenger vehicle complaining about the rising cost of gas.