I held it up as the symbol of all things suburban, a Stepford-wife accoutrement that signaled the 2.5 kids and a picket fence. It was soccer mom. It was meatloaf on Sundays. It was mom jeans and a scrunchie. White sneakers. Scrubbed floors.
I swore I would never own a minivan.
We had one baby. And my husband agreed that yes, we could keep cruising around in our Honda Accord. We had two babies, and my husband got a Ford Explorer. Then we had three babies. And suddenly, that Ford Explorer wasn’t quite roomy enough for three kids, the stuff required to maintain three kids, and snacks.
I kicked. I screamed. I swore I’d affix cow horns to the front of it and decorate the back with punk rock stickers. This wasn’t me. I was politics and free-range chickens and graphic print T-shirts, not mom mobiles. I was cool.
But the force of children and fuel efficiency compelled me. I drove off the lot with a powder-blue minivan, feeling like I’d joined the PTA mafia. Now was the time to smash the Weezer records.
But, slowly, I began to drink the Kool-Aid.
The Minivan handles better than our SUV.
It corners and steers more like a car than a truck, i.e. more easily and smoothly. It has better pickup — I can go from 0 to 60 more quickly than I could in either the car or the SUV. The brakes work more smoothly; now the SUV feels jerky. It hurts to say this, but my minivan is one smooth ride.
The Minivan can pack … pretty much everything.
I could fit my entire life in that van and go on the road like an adventurous retiree with a mini poodle. The diaper bag fits behind the driver’s seat. The baby carriers fit behind the passenger seat. The floor is paved in books and dried french fries. And the trunk. Oh, the trunk. I can fit cartons of juice boxes back there, plus my latest Target purchases, an auxiliary diaper bag, and some sports equipment. Then we shove my son’s ride ‘n’ stand bike in there, just for fun. And we still haven’t touched the extra floor storage. It’s like a mobile walk-in closet for the junk I just might need.
The Minivan fits all the carseats.
Three kids stair-stepped every two years leaves you with some serious carseat needs. Our SUV fit them okay, but we were using that fold-up third row of seats that while probably totally safe, always strikes me as mildly deadly. The minivan fits our carseats like a seat tech’s dream. We have two rear-facing in the captain’s chairs. Then we can forward-face our five-year-old in the back bench seat, which doesn’t feel like some kind of legal deathtrap. I could stash two more kids in that van, as long as their seats were narrow. That’s serious mom points.
The Minivan has automatic doors.
Automatic doors are one of those features that, like an external keypad, seem utterly extraneous until you live with them. Then they become completely indispensable. I just have to pull a handle and the door slides open, saving me the three calories it would cost to open the door on my own. Even better, the automatic doors can be opened at the touch of a keychain button, so I can open the doors from a distance, hands-free. I can also open the doors by touching buttons on the ceiling. Many buttons, this van has. Many buttons, my SUV had not. I like buttons, people.
The Minivan can fit a potty.
Yeah, it’s one of those dinky frog potties. But it’s saved my little boys from peeing on car tires many, many times. It’s also saved me from waking and unstrapping three children, schlepping them into a rest stop, peeing, strapping them back in, and listening to a half hour of wailing. Don’t judge.
The Minivan blends in.
Everyone hates a Stepford wife. But there’s a difference between following the crowd and blending in comfortably. The Minivan blends. Particularly since it’s powder blue, which seems to be a wildly popular shade for minivans. I don’t look like a soccer mom. I look like a normal person with three kids. If I wanted to rob a bank, this is the car I’d drive.
The Minivan has a killer sound system.
With twelve speakers located at strategic intervals, the Minivan, sadly, has the best sound system of any car I’ve ever had. Plus, it’s got little built-in portals to hook up my iDevices, which means I can play whatever music and pray the kids don’t listen too closely to the lyrics. The 3-year-old’s really into the Velvet Underground now. The Van made him that much cooler.
The Minivan works for our family.
I kicked and screamed. I felt like a dork. But in the end, the Minivan’s the best vehicle for us. And even though I wish I had a sweeter ride (maybe a Corvette Stingray or a VW Bus), I’ve come to embrace the Van. It hasn’t changed my identity. It’s just given me more room to stash my stuff. I didn’t magically morph into a soccer mom when I got behind the wheel. I just got lazy enough to love those automatic doors. They’re that awesome.More On