How Being Mom is Like the Department of Motor Vehicles – DMV

Stacey Gustafson, writerAfter taking my son to get his permit at the DMV, I said to myself, “Hey, this place feels like home.” 

Everyone is always mad at you.

“If you don’t have an appointment, you’re in the wrong line,” says the first person I meet at the DMV, his nostrils flaring.  Returning home after grocery shopping, a wave of anger hits me in the face.  “Did you remember the Pop-Tarts?” whines my son.  “You don’t expect me to watch Castle on TV?” complains my hubby.

There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.

There’s lots of eye rolling.

“Is this the line to renew your license?”  I say.  A huge arm points to the farthest corner of the DMV. Stacey Gustafson “Read the signs, lady.  It’s over there,” says the attendant, spinning her eyes like a top. You did not just roll your eyes at me!

At home, I approach my kids lying on the couch, texting.  Dressed in my finest blouse and trendy jeans, my teenage daughter says with a loud sigh and an eye roll, “Are you going to wear THAT?” Hmmm, yes? Focus, ignore, and don’t appear weak.

People disappear for a long periods of time after you ask them a question.

Once you arrive at the front of the line to pay at the DMV, the cashier says, “I’ll be right back.” Or, “I’m going on break.” Woman, get back here!

Want to make the teenagers disappear?  Just ask them to clear the table, load the dishwasher, take out the trash, or walk the dog.   The Great Houdinis.  Never lose eye contact even for a microsecond or turn your back on them.  Poof!

Stacey GustafsonIt takes longer than necessary to do a task. 

Plan ahead if you want to get something accomplished at the DMV.  Going on Saturday?  Forget it.  A state holiday or after 3pm? Good luck. Forgot the right forms of ID? Just make an appointment online for three months out.  This may take longer than explaining Twitter to my mother.

If you ask the kids to do something, you better take a seat and prepare to wait.  They agree to help and then stall for hours, hoping you to forget you asked.  Our dog is still wearing his leash from yesterday.

No one listens to your complaints.

At the DMV, I ask the burly gentleman behind the front desk, “Excuse me.  I’ve been standing here for two hours.  Can anyone help me?” He glances over and says, “Ma’am you don’t need to yell.”

Your family ignores all requests.  “Don’t put your muddy shoes on the sofa.”  “How come no one ever turns off the lights?”  “Can someone try to replace the toilet paper for once on their life!”  “Do you have to be so loud?”  Hello, is anyone listening?

You take lousy pictures.Stacey Gustafson

Do you look like yourself in your DMV photo?  I didn’t think so.  Mine resembles a police line up, glassy eyed, angry and bored.

Ask your kids to take a picture of you and you’ll be lucky to get the top of your head in the frame.   Are these the same kids who Instagram pictures by the hundreds and post thousands on Facebook?

Need I say more?

Check out a great parody about the DMV based on Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet.

How is your life like the Department of Motor Vehicles? Drop me a note!

About staceygustafson


  1. After you explain Twitter to your mom, can you pass along your explanation to me?

  2. Oh, the memories! The last time I was at the DMV I actually thanked the woman for her curteous service, saying she did a good job as always. Her jaw actually dropped. Made me feel powerful!

    As a police volunteer, I once heard a cop say you should never smile in your DMV photo. Reason? If you get pulled over, you wouldn’t be smiling and the cop won’t recognize the photo likeness as yours…

  3. Lani Longshore says

    Oy, did you nail this one! One more way the DMV is like home – just when you least expect it, they go out of their way to be helpful. Twice DMV workers (at two different offices) listened to my story and took the time to get me the information I needed BEFORE I dissolved into tears.

  4. That was fun! Nice picture, too, haha. Help is probably not on the way 😉

    The DMV where I live has gotten much better than when I was a kid. Of course, it’s a new building about 4 times as big as it used to be, so that helps. Oh my gosh, in that old building it was like standing at the gates of hell or something. You were miserable, and you knew it was only going to get worse, but by then it was too late; you were stuck!

    Now you do have to stand in line for-ev-er to tell them what you’re there for (and to pick up your magic call number), but at least you know when your number’s up (haha!) you’ll be talking to the right person. And you get to sit on your butt while you wait for that part. Still, I do whatever I can on line or by mail.

    • staceygustafson says

      When people start sneaking in lunch, you know you’ve been waiting awhile. I have never actually seen a fist fight yet, unbelievable! thanks for reading.

  5. This is such a funny post. I actually read the salient points to my 19-year-old son who broke a small smile. God forbid he ever think anything “I” say is funny, right? He and I went to the DMV in Oakland several months back so he could get his permit and although we had an appointment, of course when we arrived they asked why we didn’t have his birth certificate. When I called they didn’t tell me to bring anything, I say. So, we had to go home, get the key to the safe deposit box and drive to the bank to get the certificate then back to the DMV. Lo and behold, she remembered us and let us “wait” some more but I guess we would have had to wait much longer…
    Oy, vey….

    • staceygustafson says

      Maybe they could hire a few more people to work there. Next time we go back, I’m bringing a box to hold all our records. thanks for reading.

  6. jeania murphy says

    Thank God my time there is limited these days…Lordy, I just remembered we have to go more often as we get older…How much are cabs these days?

  7. I love a good walk down memory lane …

    • staceygustafson says

      Lucky you if you only have to go every 10 years to renew license. it is worse than every. thanks for reading.

  8. Carol Jones says

    Loved this one! My husband Joe would have loved to add to this! One of his biggest
    pet peeves in life is going to the DMV. He said it puts him in a crappy mood before he
    even gets there knowing he has to deal with it. Kind of like office space!

  9. I had a good experience the last time I went to change my last name. But when I had do take a new photo, it was hard to smile with the photographer so grumpy looking and who had a robotic sounding voice. I like your picture with this blog.


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