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.