It pained me to admit it, but we needed a minivan. With a second baby on the way and an upcoming move to the suburbs last summer, our nimble Ford Focus wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
Minivans are an entire class of vehicle designed specifically for our phase of life. Three rows of seating. Storage galore. Automatic sliding doors. Even my husband was on board. He thought it would be hilarious to embrace driving a minivan in all of its boxy, mommy glory. (I tried to remind him that other drivers wouldn’t know he was driving it ironically.)
There was only one thing stopping us from getting a minivan, and that was me.
The thought of driving a minivan depressed the hell out of me. I don’t consider myself someone who relies on cars to define myself (see: Ford Focus) but was I really at the minivan part of life? I was only 31! Two years before, I was in my 20s with no children. It was happening so fast.
I did some soul-searching to determine why I was rejecting this outward symbol of a stage of life that I love. I decided that my minivan-induced depression was tied into having so many major life changes happening all in one summer. I was a couple of months away from having our second baby. We had just sold our Washington, D.C., condo and moved into a house in the suburbs because we needed the space. Buying a minivan would have put me over the edge. It feels very different to be a young couple with one baby living in the city and being a family of four hunkered down in the suburbs.
I associate minivans with older mothers driving carpools. This erroneous stereotype comes from the fact that we didn’t get a family minivan until I was about 10, and it was purchased precisely to drive the Hebrew school/basketball/Tae Kwon Do carpool. Mom ditched it the year I got my own license and could drive myself and my sister around.
So I did what any somewhat self-loathing parent would do and bought an SUV. Well, not a real SUV, a “crossover SUV” called a Mazda 9. It’s enormous and I love it. Yes, the third row is a pain in the butt to access when we have to use it, and usually involves climbing in through the trunk. Yes, if I had a minivan I’d be able to buckle the baby into her car seat while the toddler was already safely in the van, rather than waiting on the sidewalk. But you know what? The Mazda 9 allows me to cling to the fragile remains of my self-image as a young urbanite and that’s worth more to me than a sliding door. Moms who drive minivans, I salute you. That probably would have been the more logical choice, but I just cannot join you.