Minivan Convert, revived

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reposted from my first month of blogging, just under one year ago. (I'll be back to writing here again next week after I meet my deadlines. Thanks for reading!)

I actually wrote a version of this way back in January of 2008 on the little blog-type feature on my myspace page. (remember myspace? is anyone on there anymore??) Anyway, I posted it here on Boy Crazy when I first started blogging, and I'm honored that this past January, the parenting magazine hip Mama published it in Issue #45. I pulled it off my blog when the issue first came out, but it's been a few months so I thought I'd throw it back up here.

And feel free to chime in - I want to hear from you Minivan-lovers and -haters alike. (It's all in good fun, right?)

I was chatting with an old friend on Facebook the other day when I casually mentioned that my five year old just started playing soccer this spring.

"So I guess I'm officially a Soccer Mom, huh?" I joked dryly.

"Holy....! You don't have a minivan, do you?!?" he gasped.

In that moment, I feared it was time for me to once and for all overcome my delusions of hipness. Sure, I'm young. I'm somewhat fashionable. I listen to good music and wear cool sunglasses.

But I have to come clean. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a Minivan-Driving Soccer Mom.

The Minivan and I had a rough start. Just like everyone else, I hated minivans for no particularly good reason. But with three kids, a giant dog, kayaks, mountain bikes, and a penchant for road tripping; there aren't too many feasible alternatives out there.

I think my loathing of The Minivan had more to do with the image of The Minivan Driver than with the actual vehicle itself. Seriously, as much as the luxury SUV drivers are loathe to admit, a new Toyota minivan and a Volvo SUV really don't look that different. One might be a little smarter and the other a little sexier, but they could pass for sisters.

But minivan marketing sucks. The women in the ads are like minivan-repellent for me. And there was no way in hell I was going to be mistaken for one of them.

I don't know anyone who drives a minivan who wants to be that uber-preppy, I-live-to-cart-my-kids-around mom who clicks the auto-door button with her arms full of juice boxes and granola bars so her children can scamper into the van -- all with smiling faces -- on their way to practice.

Nor do I know anyone who identifies with the rich suburban wife who hides her shopping packages in the stow-and-go seat spaces so her husband doesn't see how much she spent at Nordstrom’s. Besides, where are her kids? If she didn't have to haul their asses to the mall with her, don't tell me she's taking the minivan.

So what my minivan antipathy really came down to was this: I hated the ads. I hated the marketing. Therefore, I hated The Minivan.

But about a year before we had our third baby, my husband persuaded me to give The Minivan a trial run. We were taking our boys on a cross-country road trip, so we left our trusty, rusty, ten-year-old Subaru in the driveway and headed out west in The Minivan.

My husband actually tried to convince me The Minivan looked cool. He had thrown on our rack and rocket box, which happened to be covered with a ridiculous amount of stickers, including some with slogans like "Lawns are for Losers" and "I got Lei'ed in Hawaii." But you know the old saying. You can put lipstick on a minivan....

Since I had already decided that I was going to hate The Minivan, I swore that after the big trip I would never drive a minivan again. But on that trip I had an epiphany. And I became a Minivan Convert.

I love The Minivan.

It crept up on me slowly. The van had all these great compartments to keep our loads of crap separate from our other loads of crap. It was so easy to get back to the kids. I could access the cooler in the way back. I could sleep in the back seat while my hubby drove, and he could do the same. And if both the kids were sleeping, there might even be room in the back for two, if you know what I mean.

I was reluctant to admit it, but the van made my trip easier. Could it make my life easier? I was crushing hard on The Minivan.

Sure, The Minivan tries to be my mom. It won't let me out the back door. It beeps at me if my seat belt is off. It separates me from the person sitting next to me so we won't fight. But I love it nonetheless.

And now I own my very own minivan. So it is time, once and for all, for a Minivan Revolution. Let’s remove the stigma of The Minivan and redefine Soccer Mom. Seriously, people. There are some pretty hip mamas driving minivans out there – whose kids may be known to kick a soccer ball around from time to time – and trust me, they look nothing like the women in the ads.

Now I know that my SUV Sisters will say “Sure, it's more practical. Yeah, it gets better gas mileage. I know there's more room and the ride is smoother. I'm still never driving a minivan because I am cooler than that.” But I tell you this:

Get over it. Your coolness is not tied to your car. We mamas are more than our minivans.

And I do believe that when I'm striding out of the market with a baby on my hip, two kids at my side, bags of groceries slung over my shoulders, and a giant dog waiting for us; the critics will feel The Minivan Love as they see me smile while my sliding doors open automatically and I get my kids and my crap into the van with ease.

Who knows...maybe we'll even take it to a soccer game.

hip Mama Issue 45


Jo@Mylestones April 22, 2010 at 6:44 AM  

Loved this article! You had me smiling and snorting the whole way through (minivan tries to be my mom-ha!). I don't have a minivan, but I'm ready to run out and buy one just to be hip like you. :-) Okay, not really. But I still wanna be hip like you, just minus the auto doors and stow away seating.

Rebekah April 22, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

No kidding! I fought the whole mini-van thing, as well. But with 4 kids nothing is easier than that thing for hauling them around. I'll dye my hair crazy colors and listen to my Bob Marley and I'll ignore the ads. One day...maybe...I will be able to drive around in a refurbished 1965 Mustang convertible in baby blue with a pearl colored top and leather interior but it will have to wait for now.

Teacher Mommy April 22, 2010 at 8:20 AM  

I've been fighting this for years. But as I face the reality of joining households with a father of three, therefore making us a family of seven (Dear God. We're almost the Brady Bunch.), a minivan or even (GASP) a full-size van is becoming increasingly necessary. We'll be vehicle shopping soon, and guess which category we'll be checking out?

I think it's proof of my love for this man that I'm facing this new reality with equanimity and poise rather than running screaming in the opposite direction.

Heather April 22, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

It's funny that your husband tried to convince you...most times it's the other way around! My husband loves our minivan and so do I. I don't know what the big deal is really, it's not like when you first meet someone they ask you what you least that's never happened to me...and frankly I don't care! I'd rather have my kids happy in the back of the van with lots of room for snacks, bikes, tents, skis...whatever makes our life fun!!! 'cause I certainly couldn't fit all that fun stuff in a car. Don't want to forget to mention that I ended up giving birth to our 3rd son in our minivan...Thank God for minivans!

togetherforgood April 22, 2010 at 12:16 PM  

I love my minivan. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

sarah April 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM  

another convert here! now, what we need is a hybrid minivan. hm, or maybe one that runs on tantrum power. unlimited free fuel!

Graceful April 22, 2010 at 9:30 PM  

I totally love my mini-van...and it's not even a hip minivan like an Odyssey or a Sienna. It's a Chevy Venture. It's hideously ugly -- all big and tan and non-descript.

But you know what? When we're driving 7.5 hours to MN from NE through the entire state of Iowa (no offense to Iowans...but there's not a lot of scenery happening outside the car windows, especially in November on a Thanksgiving trip), and I can squeeze my body between the two front seats and walk (kind of) to the next row to sit with the boys when they get restless, I am rocking the mini van.

Seriously, when we just had the Saturn, and I tried to scale over the top of the front bucket seat to try to get into the back seat to attend to my infant, and I literally got my ass wedged between the top of the bucket seat and the car ceiling, while we were driving 75 mph on I-80, the idea of a mini van became very, very cool.

Boy Crazy April 22, 2010 at 9:42 PM  

@Graceful - Oh, man - this made me laugh out loud. Who hasn't gotten their ass wedged between the seat and the ceiling while trying to crawl back to a screaming baby? Love this, Michelle. Thanks for that. :)

Lee Vandeman April 23, 2010 at 9:57 AM  

HA HA on the ass wedge! Been there! But in my Subaru! We've had the same journey sister...Subaru to mini-van and I've never looked back. Three kids means you need a mini-van plain and simple.

I thought I had read this and I realized I haven't. I LOVE this piece!!

Happy Friday!


Sarah April 24, 2010 at 8:17 PM  

After writing on my own blog about a year ago that I would never be a mini-van mom, I've joined the converted. We had our third son a few months ago, and my husband (yes, my husband) convinced me that it was time to make the move. Now, I love it. He loves it. Our boys love it ... well, they love the DVD player.

krista April 25, 2010 at 12:12 AM  

okay, i have never once driven a minivan. but i have one child. one child and driving a minivan is just asking to be made fun of.

Martha April 29, 2010 at 10:29 AM  

Toyota must have read this. They have been doing some pretty funny minivan commercials lately with hipsters gushing over their minivan and how it just fits their personality etc.

On another note, I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now (on recommendation of Steinvika) and really love your approach to blogging, your writing style, and most of all how you represent for us all. Thanks!

swonderful April 29, 2010 at 10:48 PM  

I needed to read this. We are trying to figure out what on earth we are going to do for a vehicle when we have three kids in um, less than four months. We keep resisting the mini-van. For no reason. It's like we want to make our lives harder.

kate April 30, 2010 at 4:37 PM  

hi there! i am new around here and was sent here by a friend (corinne at trains tutus and teatime). i love this post! we are expecting our fourth in the fall and i have been RESISTING the minivan...i think my fight is over though. i mean, i would only be hurting myself to continue on the boycott. anyhoo, loved the post and i look forward to reading more!kate

The Lady of the House May 14, 2010 at 12:29 AM  

Mother of 3 males here...and now...recent Minivan Convert. A newborn. Just one month in. Wish me luck. I'm still waking up in the middle of the night...asking myself if it's for real or if I just dreamt the whole ordeal =)
I've already filled all the compartments with stuff. My husband says it's my organizing dream on wheels.

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