Much like many moms, I suspect, I spend a large amount of time hunting for my keys. I’m usually grabbing them as I rush out the door to drop someone off at school, at gymnastics, at dance class; or heading out to pick up groceries, a last-minute birthday present, a pair of shoes to replace ones that were apparently instantaneously outgrown. Or I’m rushing back into the house, tossing them in the general direction of the drawer they supposedly live in while hustling a potty-dancing child toward the bathroom or running into the kitchen to grab a snack for a child who is about to die of starvation. They often land in a coat pocket, deep in the bottom of my purse, or occasionally are even left dangling forlornly from a doorknob.
These keys, however, also mark several transitions in my life. The pair of silver keys was given to me by my husband shortly before we were married, a symbol of “his house” becoming “our house” – or rather, becoming “our home.” Other than our wedding rings, it was the most tangible sign of us uniting our lives and our futures.
The black car key belongs to a silver-blue minivan, one for which I relinquished my last “single woman car,” my beloved Honda Civic sedan, Marguerite (yes, I name my cars). I was pregnant with our second child, and my husband and I realized that we needed a larger car to be able to accommodate two car seats and two parents-in-law. It made sense for my husband to keep a smaller, more efficient sedan, since he commuted to work and put many more miles on his car than I did, so I got to use the van for my day-to-day errands. I was extremely nervous (let’s be honest: I was terrified) at the thought of driving such a large car – after all, the last time I’d driven anything larger than a hatchback or a compact car was 25 years prior, when I learned to drive on my parents’ gigantic Plymouth Grand Fury – but I learned very quickly to love Millie, with her tight turning radius, helpful backup camera, and backseat DVD player.
So every time I’m searching for my keys, fighting off panic that this might be the time they disappear for good, it’s not just that I’m worried about being late. It’s because my keys are a symbol of my life – my wonderful, crazy, beloved life.