Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Secret Life of a Minivan

Everybody makes fun of minivans. Everybody.

For as long as I can remember I've heard the phrase, "No vans, no wagons, no way," fly out of the mouths of fellow mothers just as quickly as "Put that down, you'll hurt yourself," and "Stop hitting your brother." Oh yes, the minivan statement is plentiful and very alive to this day amongst many a parental unit.

But...what is it about minivans?

Is it that they scream PARENT?

Is it that they are boxy?

Is it because they have ten thousand cup holders?

What is the big deal?

I mean, obviously, you're a parent - unless you're trying to pass off that gaggle of children following you around (one attached by a leash even) the local Shop-n-Save as someone elses. Clearly, parenthood is your gig so why all the disdain for the vehicle who's sole purpose in life is to make yours easier?

I don't get it.

Would you rather drive a Corvette?

Is that it?

Lamenting about misspent youth perhaps?

Or do you just want to be "cool?"

Unfortunately, I don't drive a minivan. But I totally would. I see no shame in it. I have no issues with their appearance or configuration - I mean, have you seen how many ways you can re-arrange the seats in a minivan? Don't get me wrong, I love the car I drive and am especially fond of the shelf in the back behind the 3rd row of seats upon which I can load my groceries, but it ain't no minivan.

There aren't enough cup holders to put it into that category.

I suppose there are downfalls to driving a minivan, but who can complain about driving a car you can actually sleep in if you had to? I mean, it seems like a no-brainer. It reminds me of being able to drive around in one of those Volkswagon Eurovans...but without the extra camping stuff or the expandable roof - but have you seen how many skylights some of those mini vans have? It's mesmerizing...

Maybe they aren't so good in the snow?

Well, neither was the Mazda 323 that I drove in college and into the first few years of motherhood, but it never bothered me. Not like I was driving my babies around off road in the snow or anything like that.

So what is it about minivans that turns people off?

We've all seen that Toyota commercial where the mom is trying to act as unmomlike as possible (to impress a couple of cops on motorcycles...what is she thinking?) and then leaves her diaper bag on the top of her...wait for it...minivan. But I still don't get it. Are we that concerned with appearing to be childless that we'll do anything to make it appear so?

Or do we just want to drive a cool car?

I just can't decide what it is, America.

But I do know one thing. I wouldn't turn one down, in fact I get envious whenever I pull up behind one at a stoplight and see how many car seats fit easily in it's passenger spaces, not to mention all the compartments to stow things (TOYS) away in. Even though my babies are past the car seat stage (well, 2 of them are, 1 is still booster-bound), it would be nice to have all that room for everything else (kid shrapnel) that seems to find it's way into my vehicle. And not have to drive a suburban assault vehicle like so many (a'hem) other people do.

I think I'm just in love with minivans because they scream MOTHERHOOD like no other car. And while yes, it's nice to be mistaken for a young, single hottie (like that ever happens) once in awhile, I have no shame admitting that yeah, those are my kids - even when they're running like mad people through the local Target.

Motherhood, it's priceless.


All Adither said...

I don't like mini-vans. There, I said it. It's both the aesthetic and the symbolism. I want to be thought of as MORE than a mom. And having a mini-van feels like it would limit me. That said, my Highlander isn't exactly the pinnacle of cool.

Kim said...

Brett would love DEEPER cup holders I am sure

Liz said...

I loveeeee my Honda Odyssey! I'd love a Suburban but they guzzle gas like crazy & have no more seats in them than my van, so I am a mini-van mama & don't care who knows it! :)

Kyla said...

Hi, my name is Kyla and I drive a minivan! And love it! It is a great drive and very practical. I'm a 26 year old who totally rocks the minivan. ;)

coldspaghetti said...

I don't drive a minivan, but man I love them. And it's not even about the kids... it's a girls' trip to the beach mobile, a let's hit Frenchman for music ride, and a yard sale scoring dream boat. Serious, serious want.

Melissa said...

Yes, I too would love a mini van! It is not easy packing up an entire farmer's market display and a nine year old (and sometimes 2 dogs) into my itty bitty Honda Civic.

carsick said...

I hate my mini van. I drive the truck when ever I can. I will say thats its a Caravan and I bought it new in 02 and the damn thing runs like a charm. It has over two hundred thousand miles on it and we've only had to do regular maintence. I CAN'T KILL IT!!!!! So I'll never quite forgive my husband for fetting rid of the suburban but at least I still have the truck.

Miller Family said...

I love my Suburban and my 4-door pickup, but I don't live on the Westside where it would be hard to drive in traffic and to park my beasty vehicles. Not sure why the minivan has such a stereotype and why so many people don't like them. Our small town has many suburbans, but it also has many minivans, explorers, and expeditions. All mom mobiles here!

Kendra said...

I've never been much of one to identify with my car. There are just way too many other things that I think scream "me"--like my kids, actually screaming at me. But I adore our minivan (Hyundai Entourage). We got it when we found out we were expecting #3, and we knew we couldn't fit three car seats in the sedan. We can all fit in it comfortably, even my FIL (who lives with us, and so we travel all together to family events and whatnot). There's tons of room in the back for groceries, and we even took it on a 2-week-long driving trip to my brother's wedding without anyone killing anyone. It doesn't get the mileage you get from some other minivans, but it has the power to pull our pop-up trailer, which we take camping every year.

We've been talking about getting a little beater, since we're a one-car family and sometimes that's hard. And I don't mind the idea of sometimes driving something that's smaller and (maybe) more exciting. But for what I need it for, our van is ideal. Maybe someday I'll drive a cute little car again. But then again, I live in Minnesota, so what would the point be?

Colleen said...

I was always one of those people saying "I will NEVER EVER NOT EVER drive a minivan!" Then we rented one on vacation. We spent the entire vacation saying "Damn, we're getting a minivan aren't we." We bought a minivan a month after that. I wouldn't trade it in for anything right now.

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