I fought getting a minivan. I just didn’t see myself as one of those moms. I think it was the immediate “middle-aged mom” image, picturing myself behind the wheel of the ultimate exhibit of a practical car that made me cringe a bit. But the truth is I am approaching middle-aged (although I am often surprised by this when I look in the mirror and realize I am no longer 24. I think in my head I will forever be stuck at age 24. ) I have FOUR kids (two of whom are twin infant boys!) and TWO dogs, gymnastics, baseball and soccer practices to take my daughter to, countless playgrounds, zoo visits, and other daytime adventures to go on, not to mention all the groceries! And the reality is, when I really think about it so many of my “mom friends” drive mini vans – and I’d like to think I have cool friends, so what image was I conjuring up? The women on the commercials driving their kids to soccer always look so put together, I love Claire on Modern Family and she drives a minivan, my own mom drove a minivan – and the only reason I think she bought one was to fit her golf clubs and friends for wine tours! I have come to the conclusion that my aversion to minivans is not one based in reality. So, I let it go. I even went with my husband’s first choice of a minivan – the one with the amazing interior but not so trendy exterior – because as he said, “It’s a minivan Alison, we’ll never be able to achieve trendy!”
And now my minivan, with its automatic doors, stow ‘n’ go cargo space, seats for girls – way in the back, heated seats, and even the DVD player, has become my haven. After a long day on the go between doctors appointments and swings and slides I find myself lingering in the driveway when we arrive home reveling in the quiet of three sleeping kids. I’ve been known to stay there for up to an hour, reclining my seat, putting my feet on the dashboard – soaking up the warm sun and falling asleep – right there in my driveway. It is just so peaceful (and comfortable) and I know once I start the process of unloading the crying will start, I will have to make bottles and change diapers, get snacks, let the dogs out…in the minivan I can just sit – and relax! Naptime in the minivan has become a staple in our house (or should I say our driveway) as we sleep and wait for Kennedy to get off the bus. The kids are sleeping anyway from the drive home so why not take advantage of the temporary quiet?!
And then there are Mondays – Kennedy’s gymnastic days. With four kids and being a full-time stay at home mom my moments alone are few and very far between. So on Mondays I drive Kennedy to gymnastics. A drive I love in itself as we discuss the day, the clouds, or any other topic that pops in our heads. Our 10 minutes in the minivan have become quite special for Kennedy and I, since we rarely spend time together just the two of us. But once Kennedy runs onto the mat for warm ups I am out. Out to the minivan that is! I always start my hour of solitude with a quick trip to Tim Hortons. From there I may do a quick errand but most days I just go back to the gymnastics club, turn off the car, the radio, put away my cell phone and soak up the silence of the moment. One week I ran to Subway to get dinner for the family and I ate mine right there in the minivan – knowing that if I waited to eat it when I got home I would eat it holding a child, or not eat it for hours – until everyone else had gotten their fill, their milk, their much needed napkins…man that sub was one of the best I have ever had. I didn’t even care that other parents walking into the building might look at me and wonder what I was doing. I just ate in peace. Two weeks ago – on a particularly warm Monday I took a nap. I love how the sun warms up a car and the breeze from open windows flows through providing a nice balance to the temperature. It was so easy to fall asleep, and exactly what I needed. It was exactly what two other moms and a dad needed too apparently because when my alarm went off and I pulled my seat up I saw them waking from their naps too! One mom actually had her head resting on the open window frame. I let out a laugh – what a great picture that would have made. A parking lot littered with minivans – filled with sleeping parents on a Monday evening. This past Monday I took thank you cards, stationary and my journal. I wrote hand written notes and enjoyed the quiet to gather my thoughts. Tim, knowing I had a long stressful day full of appointments offered to come with me to gymnastics to help me get some errands done to lessen my to do list. I turned down the offer. I didn’t care about the errands, or the to do list. When he called to present the idea on his way home from work I already had my bag packed for my writing – Tim Horton’s gift card and all!
And for all those quiet moments in my minivan there are one hundred loud ones in my house that I adore! If I didn’t have the moments of crying and dirty diapers I wouldn’t have the moments of laughter and little hands covered in finger paints! There was a time, a post from months ago, when I celebrated poop – and I still do ( I know its weird!) – I see the diapers as a sign of healthy babies! I love that my house is a constant state of action with a little bit of chaos mixed in. But those moments in my “mom-mobile”, my Mondays of solitude sitting in my practical minivan keep me sane, giving me the space I need to recognize the joy that I find inside my crazy house. So to all those moms out there fighting the minivan and the stereotype that goes along with driving such an uncool looking vehicle – let go of your inhibitions. Relish your role as the woman who keeps it all together and embrace what could be yours. Buy the minivan, celebrate the seats far in the back, the storage space, and the automatic doors! Trust me – you will come to covet that van as if it were your own little sanctuary of sanity!