Minivans Happen to the Best of Us
I didn’t own a car until I was 24 years old. When I finally got one, I thought I was pretty cool because it was a used ’87 Pulsar sports car with T-tops. (I think I paid $3,000 for it.) Then I “grew” up a little into a small Nissan sedan for a brief period before I had three babies in two and a half years. We outgrew that car and the logical next choice was a minivan.
Minivan owners. It's happened to all of us parents: the moment when the car we “want” becomes a distant memory as we move to the car that the family needs.
I could explain how the minivan is all worth it, and that trading in my dream vehicle for a van full of strollers, baseball bats, football equipment, backpacks and crayon stains on the ceiling never made me look back. But I actually just watched a Jeep Wrangler drive by and found myself wondering if fitting my whole family in one vehicle was really a necessity.
So why do so many of us mourn the day we get stuck in the proverbial parent mobile?
Sure there are funny videos out there referring to our minivans as “swagger wagons.” Yet, the reality is driving around in a minivan marks the end of the swagger era. The day and age of any allowed irresponsibility are over. Instead, it announces the era where you apologize to friends for the stinky mess of your minivan as you wipe crushed cheerios aside to find them somewhere to sit. The minivan symbolizes the realization that we aren't allowed to be selfish any longer. Making decisions about OUR needs and OUR desires is more like a fantasy than a reality. It’s the same reason we all have a meltdown at some point when our child asks us if they can just have a “bite of that,” as their eyes turn to saucers when we are screaming, “NO IT’S MINE.”
But I actually wouldn't trade my minivan, because as uncool as it is, it represents a season of my life that won't last forever.
I often tell new parents the moment you meet your child is the second you can’t remember a time without them. Whether they enter your life through birth or adoption they take over your world and you can't imagine it any other way. And we'll always have days where we're tired of being last and wish we could make a choice with no one else in mind. But then we remember the little people that occupy our mind almost every minute and our sacrifices occur pretty naturally. Some people call this “dying to self.” I prefer to see it as unconditional love and "we're all in this together". We have to practice it every day.
Maybe the minivan is something that symbolizes to our kids: “ You are worth it."