By Guest Blogger Laura Simon
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t stay awake at night dreaming about this incredible love affair. In fact, I spent the better part of a decade loudly declaring to anyone who would listen that I would never, EVER start a relationship like this. Of course, I also said I would NEVER be a stay-at-home mom, have children who threw public temper tantrums, or live in the suburbs. I should probably quit using the word “never”.
But a minivan?
I just knew that would never happen. When I turned 16, the only vehicle my parents trusted me to drive was their 1980’s Dodge Caravan with a rather cantankerous transmission and the fake wood strip down the side. It was mortifying, but also better than not driving anything at all, so I rolled down the windows and tried to pretend it was a Jeep Wrangler. I was overjoyed when it finally bit the dust and my dad traded it in for a truck. After all, I dreamed of being an SUV girl, a dream I finally achieved in my early thirties when I found out I was pregnant and we traded in my husband’s compact car for a mini-SUV. It was silver and cute, with heated seats and a sunroof. I adored my non-minivan mom-mobile.
I had two kids in quick succession, and that’s when I fell out of love with my SUV. It was basically a compact car on a truck chassis. In order to fit a rear-facing car seat in the back, my husband and I found our knees crammed against the dashboard and our shoulders draped uncomfortably over the steering wheel. I’ve since discovered that there are people who willingly drive this way, but I’m not 80 or a grandma, so I can’t relate.
The storage in the back wouldn’t fit a double stroller. My toddler couldn’t climb in without help. He could, however, reach his infant brother in the seat next to him, which presented a whole host of problems. If I wanted to nurse or change a baby, there was no space in the back to do so. My SUV was a car designed for a twenty-something and I…wasn’t.
And so, I traded in my fully-loaded dream car for a big, white minivan. And I fell head-over-heels in love. Let me tell you why.
My minivan makes mom life easier. Not long after I got mine, I watched another mom in the parking lot strapping her children into her gorgeous SUV. Rain was pouring down, and she balanced one child on her soaking hip while trying to strap the other one in the car seat. Then she dashed to the other side door and repeated the process. When all was said and done, her clothing held enough water to break the drought in California. And where was I? Inside my minivan. I’d herded both boys in, climbed in behind them, and strapped them into their respective seats while kneeling on the ample floor space. When I finished, I just climbed over the console into my own warm, dry seat. I’m not saying it was graceful, but it was better than transforming into a drowned rat. I’ll take dry over cool and trendy any day.
I’ve since learned that this particular strategy also comes in handy when we have to travel somewhere at night, or when I just don’t feel particularly safe. We climb in, lock the door, and then handle getting everyone strapped in. And on long trips, I can sit in the back with the kids instead of turning around and breaking my neck while holding in the pacifier. For hours. (I once did this for the better part of the drive from Ohio to South Florida. My spine will never be the same.)
When my boys got big enough to kick the seat in front of them (because that, as you likely know, isn’t at all annoying), we moved them to the third row. Problem solved. My minivan has dual climate control, so the littles in their hot carseats can have air while their frigid parents have heat. There’s ample storage for even the biggest stroller, and a special mirror allows me to see everyone in the back of the van without turning my head. You would not believe the things I’ve caught them doing. Well, you’re reading a moms blog, so maybe you would.
And the automatic, sliding doors. Oh, how I love them. My tiny children can open them without denting the beautiful sports car parked next to me. Those doors flat-out refuse to shut on small hands and arms, or on me when I hit the button accidentally. Not that that’s ever happened. They are game-changers for a busy mom of (now) three.
And you know what? My minivan is fun to drive. It sits higher than the average car on the road, but it handles like a sporty sedan. And the sound system is pretty amazing, too. I was on my way to work in the morning after dropping the kids at daycare when I noticed the lady next to me sending strange looks in my direction. I mean, isn’t in normal for a woman in professional attire to blast Eminem in a white minivan? I guess not. But the speakers were up to the challenge.
I don’t know who decided to give minivans a bad rep. Maybe because moms drive them, and someone somewhere decided moms aren’t cool. But you know what? I created and fed three tiny humans with this body. I didn’t sleep for the better part of five years. I can multitask better than the president of a major corporation. Why on earth do I need a twenty-something on social media to think I’m cool?
I don’t. So today, I’m saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” and “You complete me!” to my white Kia Sedona, because anything that makes my life easier, helps my kids sleep, and gets me to and from Target is worthy of my undying affection.