Monday, December 27, 2010

Why I'm singing the minivan blues

I bought a mini-van kicking and screaming.

I was eight months pregnant with my second child, so I was already hormonal. I loved my Nissan Pathfinder SUV, but was tired of hitting my 3-year old's head every time I hiked him into the back seat. I'm sure he was getting a bit weary of it as well. So after much research, we said goodbye to our last connection to pre-parenthoodness and bought a 2001 Honda Odyssey.

I have never felt so uncool in all my life.

I pulled into our neighborhood, tears in my eyes, belly nudging the steering wheel of this torpedo-shaped, 8-passenger beast; Aerosmith blaring on the sound system in my desperate attempt to regain some semblance of self.

It didn't help.

Begrudgingly, I came to embrace the van and all it's conveniences. The power doors were nice when my hands were full of kids or groceries. It was ridiculously easy to pile both kids into it, plus diaper bags, baseball equipment, lawn chairs and everything that comes with children as they get older.

I became "One of Them"... one of the myriad of vans in the school parking lot, emblazoned with two school magnets so everyone would know "my van". A cross of plastic beads made by my son in Vacation Bible School hung from the rearview mirror. It was easy to do that "Hi, Neighbor" wave as I passed other parents in their vans dropping their kids off at school.

No longer did I hang my head in shame, but deep down, I never felt like a member of the Club.

Today, nearly 10 years later, I have reached the day I thought I had been waiting for. The day I am no longer a "Van Mom".

And I must admit, I'm a little sad.

For all my resentment toward vandom, as I called it, that minivan certainly was good to me. It didn't mind when I sideswiped the big rock that idiots put on the corner so you won't drive on the grass when you take the turn. It didn't seem to care when the bicycles somehow careened out of control and into its side panel. And it didn't bat a headlight when I surreptitiously closed the garage door and popped out that dent with a toilet plunger.

It never failed to start for me - ever. It always gave me these lovely, bright courtesy warning lights to alert me that something was wrong, so it wouldn't leave me high and dry on the side of the road somewhere. I never had a flat tire. I never had an accident. I never had a dead battery. I never had not enough room, even when we piled four kids and all their luggage in it and trekked 2000 miles to South Dakota and back last summer.

That's when we hit 100,000 miles. It was a melancholy moment.

I know I could go another 100,000 with this van of mine. I also know that I'm doing a lot more driving now, and I'm not one to tempt fate.

So this week, I'm trading in my wonderful van and going back to my roots, an SUV. As carefully researched as our van selection was 10 years ago, I think I'm making the right decision. It has all the room of a van, is a newer car, and even has a third row seat, so I can transport as many of my kids' friends that I could before. I should be ecstatic.

Ironically, I'm a little sad. I feel as if I'm betraying my van. It was so good to me, and here I am, giving it up to some stranger who will do who-knows-what with it. Most likely, it will sit at auction, being bid on like some piece of... of... steel and fiberglass.

I'm sure I'll get over this. I'm sure I'll enjoy my new ride, and will feel much "cooler" tooling around in it than a silly old van. But I just want it to know that it was very good to me, it served its purpose, and it's one of the few things that has been consistent in my life for the past 10 years.

Thanks, van. I'll always remember ya.


  1. Still gonna sport the magnets on the back? =)

    James said that he couldn't tell that the van was that old... =)

  2. This should make you feel better. I just got a quote to trade in my 2005 mini-van for a 2011 model. They wanted 28K plus my old van. Yeah, right.


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