Car Seats and Whiplash

Car seats are the worst.

I usually refrain from going into detail about my life as a mother here, because I know a lot of that may not be of interest to single readers. When I was single, I remember meeting with “mommy friends” and half-listening to tales of their daily struggles (involving such things as potty training and tantrums). At the time, I wondered if those things were really “struggles” because I so desperately desired what my married friends had.

But now I find myself in the midst of similar mundane challenges. Such as car seats. I have two children in toddler seats right now. And anytime I want to go anywhere — even just five minutes away — I have to strap these two little children into these car seats. There are three separate latches, and the straps have to be let out or taken in based on the bulkiness of the child’s clothing that day. Add to that, one child who squirms and screeches mercilessly the whole time, and you can see my dilemma. I find the process very irritating. I think a main reason for this is that I lack dexterity when it comes to such tasks. My husband, on the other hand, who made lattes for six years, is a pro at the car seats. He can buckle in the little ones in half the time it takes me. 

When I was single, I never imagined the loathing I would one day feel toward a piece of child’s safety equipment. Nine months away from my fifth wedding anniversary, I think I’m experiencing some life whiplash. There was no way for me to anticipate the shock to my system it would be to go from being single and having a career to getting married, quitting my job and having two children in the space of three years. 

Some of you may find yourself with a similar road ahead. Perhaps you are recently engaged or married. Maybe you find yourself in the same position I did: in the second half of my childbearing years, wanting to have a family.  

There are a lot of people out there who will warn you that getting married and having children right away is a bad idea. They tell horror stories about losing your freedom and never being happy again. Recently, blogger Matt Walsh answered the question, “Do you lose your freedom when you have kids?” I loved what he had to say: 

“We’ve got a pathetically shallow notion of freedom in this country, and that’s perfectly reflected by this common claim that you lose it when you have kids. Sure, if ‘freedom’ is merely ‘the ability to go places and do things with minimal hassle,’ then, yeah, you’ve lost that. You haven’t lost it permanently, but for a good long while. This is a flimsy, flat, flaccid view of freedom. I believe there’s more to being ‘free’ than vacations and financial flexibility. I’ve seen both sides of this; I lived completely alone for the first half of my twenties, so I know about this sort of freedom. I know about it, and I can honestly tell you that I feel more free now than I ever have before. If I didn’t have a family, I could go on a cruise, or move to Vegas, or see Paris if I so desired. In fact, I could go pretty much anywhere on the globe. But I’d only be ‘free’ to travel laterally. Now, I can travel deeper. I’m free to go deeper into human existence and experience things that are much more life changing, enriching, transformative and exciting than a thousand vacations to a thousand exotic locations.” 

So it may seem odd that the woman who just openly admitted to hating car seats would encourage you to remain openminded about God’s timing for your future family. But the thing is, as much as I loathe those car seats (and, at times, changing diapers and cleaning up Cheerios and wiping noses), I love my children to an even more passionate degree. I wouldn’t want my former freedom back (although I certainly enjoyed it at the time). 

And so, I’ll continue to fight with the buckles and latches until the glorious day when my kids are old enough to buckle themselves in. That will be a day for much rejoicing. But for now, I rejoice in the present and the freedom to experience exactly what God has for me today. 

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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.

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