By Diane LeBleu
This is not a man bashing piece – I know the mama birds don’t do that. You nurture and encourage your children and husbands but also have the courage to laugh at the goofy things we mamas and our broods manage to do in the course of missteps we call daily life. But I need to get something off my chest that will not be read by my husband in my usual outlets.
My husband Tom called me at work today – he backed into a car parked in our driveway as he was leaving to take two of our children to swim practice. I hit the roof. My co-workers in the Real Estate office I visit two times a week saw a normally cool, collected woman that usually keeps it together, lose it. He tells me the story and finishes with ‘I guess we need to call it in on our insurance’. ‘No,’ I said with clenched teeth, ‘YOU need to call it in on our insurance’ and I hung up on him.
You see – this is not the first time or the second or even the third time Tom has backed his vehicle into another. It is the EIGHTH time something like this has happened in the almost twenty years we have been together since meeting in college at Trinity University in San Antonio. Good grief, eight times!
We mamas have eyes in the back of our heads. Clearly, this daddy bird does not. Marriage experts tell us not to keep score against a spouse in order to have a happy marriage. I can’t help it. I have freakish recall of people, names, phone numbers, events, license plates, food eaten on occasions. There’s actually a medically diagnosed condition for this (isn’t there always!).
For you People magazine readers, last week’s issue told a story of a woman that can remember what she wore, ate, watched on tv, on Thursday, May 14, 2002. Or what happened on Monday, January 3, 1998. I’m not quite that bad (for example, I can’t remember jokes or card games to save my life) and I don’t keep track of all my husbands gaffes (lest he start keeping track of mine!) but come on! Running your car into another’s is probably something that ought to be tracked – I know our insurance company is keeping tabs.
Don’t we teach our children to learn from our mistakes? Do you continue to touch a hot stove, for crying out loud? Here is a scorecard of my dear husbands bumper busting escapades over the years.
1. November 18, 1992 – The night Tom and I got engaged, we dined at a charming hill country restaurant in Helotes, Texas called the Gray Moss Inn. Leaving the restaurant after 11PM in a torrential downpour, he backed my car (a white Nissan 240 SX) into a large oak tree that peppered the unpaved parking lot. His excuse then: Too much rain, no parking lot lights, giddy from engagement dinner, blind spot in car.
2. January 1993 – Starbucks parking lot, San Antonio Texas. During our DINK days (dual-income-no-kids), my husband drove a beautiful baby blue targa-top Porche Carrera. He backed into a Suburban parked behind him. His excuse then: Manual transmission, no cup holders, hot hot coffee, blind spot in car.
3. October 31, 1999 – Our driveway in San Antonio. Backed our blue Mercedes into Maggie’s (our nanny’s) white convertible mustang parked in the driveway. His excuse then: I didn’t see her parked there (Doh!).
4. October 31, 1999 – Our neighbor’s driveway in San Antonio. Backed our blue Mercedes into JR’s (our friend) car parked on the street leaving a Halloween party. His excuse then: too many cars on the street, no street lights, giddy about move to California on Monday, blind spot in car.
5. March 2003 – Our driveway in Austin, Texas. Backed into Maggie’s (our nanny’s) white Prius with his Isuzu Trooper. His excuse then: She didn’t pull her car up far enough for me to get out (like it’s her fault!).
6. June 2005 – Backed Trooper into “No Parking Sign” in restaurant parking lot. Blind spot. At least no other vehicles involved.
7. August 2007 – Lake Travis. Backed our minivan into a cement post leaving the parking area. According to our kids, it just jumped out of nowhere. Must be a blind spot in the Honda Odyssey.
8. May 13, 2008 – Backed Trooper into Maggie’s brand new red RAV4 in driveway at our house in Austin, Texas. His excuse this time – she didn’t pull her car up far enough for me to get out.
Ok, I know this story may not resonate much with the non-driving city folk. And for those of you living in cities like New York and San Francisco and Chicago where parking is practically non-existent, you know that God created bumpers for a reason. But eight times? And our dear friend Maggie has been tagged three of those eight. She’s due for some good fortune – maybe she should buy a lottery ticket.
I don’t want to misrepresent my husband – he is a wonderful father, good provider, and a lot of fun. We’ve been married now almost fifteen years, for better or worse (yesterday was one of those worse days) but I’m baffled as how to proceed with this. He has a degree in engineering, an MBA, and is a fantastic business consultant. Clients love him. But his mother rationalizes his battiness when it comes to details with ‘oh, he’s just an absent minded professor’. Maybe, but can be a little more diligent when he’s behind the wheel of a thousand-pound, seven-seat motorized bumper crushing machine? I hope so.
On the day after more than 10,000 men, women, and children have been killed and countless others injured and left homeless by a devastating earthquake in China, I need to appreciate what perspective is. But I am compelled to sharpie and duct tape a note on the steering wheel of my husband’s car that reads:
‘Don’t forget to look behind you CAREFULLY. The next thing you hit may be our child.’
Diane LeBleu is the mother of 4 children (Danielle, Travis, Sabrina and Caroline) and lives in Austin, Texas. When she’s not venting about her husband’s propensity to tap other cars, she writes at The Writing Mamas Salon of Austin and Divine Caroline.