My first car was a 1995 white Plymouth Neon. Neons had just come out and it was SUPER exciting to FINALLY have a car at the age of 22. No more begging friends/family to drive me places or let me borrow their car. Never again would I have to sit in my friend R’s basement and hear OK, who wants to drive her home tonight?
The Neon was great, it got awesome gas mileage and was good to me for years. Around 2000 “she” hit 100,000 miles and started to get “sick” and the husband and I realized it was time to let her go. No worries, I got another Neon except this one was a Dodge Neon and it was silver AND it had power locks and windows (I was living the high life). I loved my Neon and she loved me.
When I became pregnant with the twins in 2005 people immediately asked if I would be trading in the Neon for an SUV. Hell no!! Two car seats will totally fit in the Neon and the trunk is huge. Believe it or not the car seats did fit AND we had packing the trunk down to a science. We could even make a BJ’s run and cram it all in the car. We were happy, life was good.
Then came 2008 and I found myself pregnant again. No way were 3 car seats going to fit in the Neon it was time to upgrade. My first thought was SUV, NO WAY would I let the M-word enter my mind, I would NOT drive a minivan!! The husband and I started to price SUV’s and it became clear I was going to have to look into a minivan – YUCK!
I was in denial for weeks and wouldn’t discuss it. The husband did all the research and would come home with brochures and talk about things like “stow and go seating” and “automatic doors” and “trunk space” like that would make any difference to me. How could I ever drive a minivan??!! It was huge and boxy and just screamed Mom On Board.
March 2008 the husband drove home our brand new 2009 Town and Country Minivan with the stow and go seats (it was one of the saddest days of my life). The twins were THRILLED and couldn’t get inside fast enough. I was 7 months pregnant and miserable. I refused to drive it and pouted. The husband told me it drove like a dream, bragged about its comfort and showed everyone the trunk space (just what a girl cares about). My friends who had minivans told me I would “love it” and would appreciate the automatic doors when it rained. NEVER!
In a last-ditch attempt to make me accept the van, the husband upgraded the radio and installed some touch screen radio/cd/dvd player. Yipee, now I could blast my top 40 music in a van with the windows down – that screamed “cool mom”.
Eventually I gave in and drove the van (we had gotten rid of the Neon so I had no choice). Time went on and we added another car seat to the van and portable dvd players hung from the seats. It was a total kid-friendly minivan and I was its principle driver. I would make excuses not to have to drive friends or co-workers though because inevitably they would look in the back and say “WOW you have 4 car seats?!”
The van has been good to us (mostly). It gets pretty good gas mileage and I can fit a lot in the trunk. The automatic doors have even helped to wrangle in the kids from time to time. As much as I like the can, however, I will NEVER love it. There is just too much baggage associated with it and a stigma attached to being an owner of one.
People judge you before you exit the vehicle. They assume you are a mom with a ponytale, sporting a jogging outfit, carrying a big diaper bag with screaming kids in tow. Forget ever trying to look “cool” in it. Nothing is more pathetic than blasting music (even if it is cool music) in a van, with the windows down, at a traffic light.
I am told that eventually, when the boys get older, I can trade the van in for a vehicle with 3 rows. Unfortunately, kids in NJ seem to be in a booster seat until they are teens (or at least that is what it feels like) so for now I will just envy the non-van drivers I see on the road and wonder if they know how lucky they are.