Angie Kinghorn is a former lawyer-turned-writer/SAHM, married to a practicing lawyer, and mom to newly graduated twins, a boy and a girl. She writes about her battle with postpartum depression and is published in various anthologies. Angie is smart, witty, and tough as nails.
Today, Angie is talking about her love affair with the minivan, but don’t be fooled….it’s tried to kill her in the past. Thankfully, it wasn’t successful. Thanks for being here, Angie!
I never expected to love my minivan.
As we drove away from the dealership, I cried like the babies we were preparing to have, wailing to my husband that I missed my Passat. I may or may not have looked for it in the pre-owned section of the dealership when I took the van in for its first oil change.
Our lives were expanding – no, exploding – in girth, from the minivan I wasn’t convinced would fit in the garage, to mountains of baby gear, to my belly (which, at the 22 weeks or so we got the minivan, measured 32 weeks, leaving me looking almost full term and perhaps a bit, as my sister so delicately put it, “like a beached whale”).
The minivan represented that explosion, the end of the sexy period of life when cars were cool.
Little did I realize I’d approached the end of cool. Really, can you even claim to be striving for cool when you’re potty training two kids and don’t hesitate to pull over in any neighborhood so they can perch on a portable potty in the back of the minivan? Or when your idea of an exciting outing is piling everyone in the minivan, turning on the DVD player and jamming out to Baby Einstein while driving across town to the drive-thru Starbucks?
Yeah, I gave up cool, but I found “it makes my life easier.” Which, as a mother of young kids, is cool.
Those sliding doors? God, they’re beautiful. My kids can’t ding anybody’s car. I can park in compact spaces. I can glide up to school and drop off my kids with the push of a button. And if the kids forget to close the door? I’ve got it. Seriously, it’s beautiful. So beautiful and utilitarian that I’ve actually named my minivan. She’s Wanda. I’ve never even thought to name a car before Wanda.
I realized how much I’ve come to adore Wanda when my husband took her out of town and left me with his Camry. It felt like driving a go-cart at pavement level. Apparently I’ve forgotten how to reverse without a backup camera. I stared resolutely at the dash in his car, expecting images to appear. And there’s no place to put anything. You can barely fit a person or two in there.
Truth be told I’m not sure I’ll ever go back from a minivan. There’s no need to pack lightly—we can cram everything in. I’m (almost) always prepared. Yes, I carry hydrogen peroxide, sterile gauze pads, Band-Aids, and antibiotic ointment in the car. Doesn’t everybody? And the spare thermometer, bug spray, sunscreen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and children’s Benadryl – that’s just sensible. My husband no longer makes fun of the things that live in the van after one of the kids threw up on the road. That, my dear, is why one should always carry Ziplocks, trash bags, Lysol, baby wipes, and changes of clothing.
And when you’re not hauling strollers, you can use that helpful third row for a nap in the preschool parking lot or the carpool line. Just be sure to set an alarm on your phone so you don’t sleep through pickup. (A tip I picked up from, um, a friend.)
A friend of mine told me she was getting a Suburban because she “didn’t want to look like a mom.” I extolled the virtues of everything remotely minivan related before realizing she was never going to get a minivan.
“I just can’t stand the idea of looking like a mom,” she said.
“That cat’s out of the bag the minute you’re out with two kids in a double stroller who call you ‘Mommy.’” I responded. “It doesn’t matter what you drive.”
She and I aren’t that close anymore.
You can retain a sense of self and be a mom, even a mom who drives a minivan. My radio plays Pearl Jam and Eminem just as well as Kidz Bop.
I didn’t expect to love my minivan. But I could never have expected how much I’d love my kids and being a mother, and perhaps the two go hand in hand.