If you've ever had to go through the hell of trying to buckle a car seat in, you'll understand everything I'm about to say. Bending over the car's interior with my full backside catching the wind is about as fun as solving a Rubik's Cube blindfolded. Being the safety-conscious mom that I am, getting that buckle into its impossibly hidden slot is nothing short of a miracle. Of some things every mom is thinking when trying to buckle her kid into their damn car seat, I have a feeling every swear word in the book tops the list.
While my oldest has long since been out of her booster, my 5-year-old son still needs a car seat. I hate nearly everything about the big, bulky thing, except that it reminds me he's not too big not to need me just yet. Seeing him in it, with his little feet dangling in front of him, takes me back to the day when, not so long ago, we drove him home from the hospital in the rear-facing car seat.
I could almost cry thinking of how quickly the time has flown by, and yet, the moment I'm fighting to get him buckled into that damn thing, nostalgia escapes me and all I can think is how I can't wait to rip the car seat from it's latches and set it afire. Drastic? Maybe. Here's some other things moms like me think when trying to buckle her kid in the damn car seat. The struggle is so, so real.
"Where Is The Damn Slot?"
If you've never struggled through the summer sun's heat while wrestling a buckle over your child's shoulder and lap like I do (multiple times a day), you haven't lived your best/worst life. There's something about the size of a car seat and how cleverly the connecting piece fits just under the car seat. Every damn day I have to dig it out while sweating and huffing over my poor boy and until I magically locate it. It's my least favorite part of the day, but at least I'm burning calories with all the pent-up rage.
"Does It Even Fit?"
By the time my fingers grasp the seat belt where the strap goes into the slot, there's always a fight to the (near) death to get the thing into said slot. Because I can't see past my son's body and the car seat's frame, it's a trust exercise I never signed up for. This is usually the point I've also accidentally found melted chocolate, a Lego piece, or, during our weirdest times, a pile of birdseed. We do not own a bird.
"What If I Just Rip It Out?"
I'm pretty sure every mom who's ever had to buckle her kid into a car seat has had the same thoughts. I've thought about tossing it into a lake. Running it over with my car (the irony!). Sitting it into the corner for a timeout and a long talk about why it ruins every car ride. There are few things that get me riled up faster than trying to secure my son into his car seat safely. I'm angry just thinking about it, actually.
"I'm Pretty Sure My Butt Is Hanging Out"
Not only do I fight with getting the damn buckle clasped together, but the whole time, I have to lean over my child — who ends up eating my hair — pushing my backside into the great, wide open space of the universe. In our driveway, it's no biggie, but in a parking lot? Huge biggie. I can't help the view, people. Apologies.
"I Loathe This Whole Process"
Is there really no simple solution for strapping my child into a car seat without going through all of this? The moment I realize we have to go somewhere, I feel the anger burning straight through my veins. My daughter, who's nearing 11, gets in, puts on her belt, and we're good to go. But my sweet son — who still needs me to help him — is stuck. I had a dream I grabbed the belt and it clicked into the slot on the first try. Then I woke up and realized it's just not possible.
There's no way around the cursing. It's an exhausting process going to the gas station a couple blocks away. I've tried muting myself but once the "belt buckle rage" hits, I lose all control. Earmuffs, kids.
"OMG Look At The Dangling Feet"
Once all is said and done, and I'm catching my breath from the driver's seat, I glance back in the rearview and see my baby who's no longer a baby. Maybe I think of all the time that's past and how I wish I could re-live those days all over again — even if it means dealing with the car seat longer. Or maybe I think of all the things I'm going to do to the car seat when he's finished with it. Probably the latter.