They say confession is good for the soul. So here is mine… I adore my minivan
OK. I said it.
I realize this confirms what my sisters always said about me: I’m just not that cool. That’s fine with me. My minivan and I can take it. It’s my badge of honor that announces to the world each and every day, I am a mom and I am proud.
Now driving a minivan may not seem like such a big feat, but let me explain a few things. First, I did not even learn to drive until I was 35, and I did that only because we were going to be moving to the suburbs where I was raised.
Unlike Manhattan and Queens, my former homes, on Long Island, driving is a necessity. Overcoming my fear to drive once seemed impossible, but I did it. It required many driving lessons and a teacher that became a candidate for sainthood, but it’s an accomplishment that I’m very proud of.
Second, I never thought I would have enough kids to warrant a minivan. Children did not come easily to my husband and me. We had four miscarriages before our son was born. After we happily welcomed our daughter three years later, we figured that was it.
Life had other plans. I got the happiest shock of my life when after two fertility-assisted babies I found myself pregnant with our third child at 39.
For some reason, the minute you find out you will have more than two children, there is an amazing amount of pressure to announce this miracle by the car you drive.
Most of this pressure came from my parents, who thought it was practically child abuse to put their grandchildren in anything less.
This from the same people who took my two sisters and me on more family trips than I care to remember stuffed in the backseat of my father’s green Volvo.
I wish I could properly describe the five-hour trips home we would make from my uncle’s dairy farm with my sister Sandy’s feet under my butt. The smell of cow manure packed into bags and put into the trunk for my father’s vegetable garden. Sitting in the backseat with a very full bladder because my parents were bound and determined to make only two pit stops per car trip upstate.
Good times indeed.
Yes, now that they are grandparents, they sing a very different tune. They get upset at me if I don’t have pillows and blankets in the car when I take their precious grandchildren home from their house, which is only six blocks away.
Oh how times have changed. But I digress.
Every time I get behind the wheel of my Mom-mobile, I get an odd sense of pride. I did it. I became a mom. Look at my dirty minivan with cookies smashed in the carpet. I have arrived.
That silly sense of pride and even joy has seen me through some very long days of being a mom of three.
Days when my kids were younger and getting them strapped into various baby, toddler, and booster seats became a second job. Then there were the gymnastics required to find a beloved stuffed animal or pacifier stuck between seats while one might be screaming or another one waiting to see how I was going to solve this pickle.
There are times, even now that they are older, when I get tired of hearing my own voice telling my dears to knock off the arguing or to please let one kid finish their story before the next one chirps in with what they need.
I treasure the conversations I have with my 17-year-old as I drop him off at a friend’s house, the gym, or a movie. Or even more amazing, when he is in the driver’s seat. The giggles I have when I’m taking my 11-year-old to school, or an appointment. Or the songs my 14-year-old daughter with special needs sings to me about why I should let her have ice cream for dinner or why I’m the meanest mom because I won’t give her my iPhone.
There are the way-too-rare moments now when all five of us are in the car, laughing together and enjoying each other’s company. I can’t help but feel blessed and grateful.
Time is moving so quickly. Sooner than I care to admit, I’ll no longer need a minivan to cart my kids all over town. I can go back to a more respectable car. But right now I’m going to enjoy my mom-mobile for what it is, a tangible reminder that all the things I once thought were impossible are not impossible at all.
This piece was previously published on the Dishwasher, September 25, 2011, under the title, Me, Myself and My Minivan. It has been updated from the original