I spent nearly a year and a half hunching down to haul my baby girl out of the back seat of my Acura. Before the baby, my car was a snazzy luxury ride; after baby, it was too small, too unreliable. This year my car would reach 100,000 miles, and it was already at maximum carseat capacity. No way would it accommodate the second carseat we hoped to need in the next year, so I was on the hunt for new (used) wheels.
Ever the compulsive researcher, I started my car search at Consumer Reports, plucking out ten models of wagon and SUV that met my conditions for style, reliability, and safety. And back seat space for carseats. I shopped those models, crossing off one after the other. Too big. Too small. Too rugged. Too cushy. The sexy Volvos were cramped, the outdoorsy Subarus were uncomfortable. Goldilocks did not find her match until she landed in the cockpit of a Toyota Prius wagon.
But I’m used to six cylinders and sex appeal! This little Go Go Gadget car runs on AAA batteries and pixie dust. I had to ask myself, how much power do I really need with my own little pixie napping in the back seat? What this family really needs is to stop bonking the baby’s head on the roof of the car when we pull her out of her seat. And we need cargo space for a stroller, groceries, cat litter, and a yoga mat.
Nick and I were sold on the small car that feels big, has lots of jazzy technology, and can drive to Alaska on a gallon of gas. The three of us spent our first day as Prius owners Sunday-driving around and discovering its features.
I told my husband, “I feel like I could convincingly adopt a granola mama persona in this car. Like I was a yuppie in the Acura, and now I’m a neo-hippie.”
As the words left my mouth, my mind scrolled down the bullet list of things we had done that very day:
- Picked up our CSA share from the farmer’s market.
- Bought additional food at a natural grocery that is NOT Whole Foods (too corporate for us).
- Juiced organic vegetables and fruit.
- Watched a documentary about veganism.
…and our baby was wearing cloth diapers.
This was not a special Prius-induced binge of crunchy behavior, this is our regular Sunday routine. Maybe those around me already knew I was an Earth Mama, but I only just realized it.
It’s like… this Prius found me across a crowded used car lot to show me myself. Show myself to me?
Screw it, I would make an awkward mystic.
What this car-buying process did was make me confront a list of choices:
- Luxury vs Efficiency
- Power vs. Economy
- Status vs. Eco-Awareness
I chose the latter this go-around, but the environmentalist mask that came with the car doesn’t quite fit me. This choice, just like all those other pseudo-hippie choices I make are only in service to my tiny master.
I’m not thinking about the planet when I hold my breath and throw a load of diapers in the washing machine, I’m thinking about her sensitive skin and all the desperate midnight diaper runs I don’t have to make.
When I chose the Prius, I wasn’t thinking about pollution, I was thinking about making half as many stops at the gas station with a cranky passenger who is ready to get out and play.
Ok, I was also totally thinking about the “cool” factor.