You know it’s coming, lurking in some shadowy corner of the future with other inevitabilities, like wrinkles, gray hair, and memory loss. Not one of us aspires to it. Some of us avoid it. Others refuse to accept we need it. But eventually we cave. Whether it’s that next pregnancy or the guilt of squishing three car seats into the back seat of a car that was never meant for such contraptions, the minivan transition happens.
I, too, was in denial ever since the birth of my third child. I convinced myself that sitting with an overstuffed diaper bag on top of my feet was actually a convenience because of its easy access. And the fact that my hand wouldn’t fit between the car seats to fasten the seat belts was actually a good thing because it taught my older kids responsibility for themselves. And heaving a thirty pound infant car seat over my other kid every time we got in and out was actually a good substitute work out for my arms and back.
No, it wasn’t until we planned our summer vacation that I began to weaken. The thought of driving twelve hours in a car with a seven-year-old, five-year-old, and ten-month old baby was almost enough for me to call the whole trip off. Then there was the portable DVD player situation. In what little space was left in the back seat, wires strung from one head rest to the next, connecting at the port near the floor, which made a great tripping wire for the kids every time they got out. But the best part was that one of the screen’s volume control wouldn’t work so one kid complained continually about not being able to hear, and the other kid complained about the one complaining.
But who’s complaining? You see, I had made a vow a few winters earlier that I would never get a van. It was a cold snowy day and I was picking up my daughter from preschool. The driveway sloped into a wide gravel area for several cars to park. I noticed several vans spinning out in the driveway as well as a car that had slid off into the ditch. I felt a little guilty as I threw my SUV into 4WD and backed out past them all, but mostly I thanked the Lord I didn’t have a van.
So when I found myself on a car lot with my husband, walking past SUV’s towards the row of vans, I took a bite of that bitter pride pie with each step.
However, every so often, life packages a bit of wonderful in something unlikely. Like a rainbow in an oil puddle, or in this case, bliss in a minivan. Now, angels did not sing and doves did not descend, but when the side doors automatically slid open to reveal eight seats (all removable), and a built in hide-away infant car seat, I got a glimpse of heaven. The DVD player tucked into the ceiling and wireless headphones would allow me and my husband to listen to the radio while the kiddies watched a movie. Did I mention the interior was dark gray leather?
As I drove home in our new van, that pride pie starting tasting pretty sweet. The next few days I continued to make minor discoveries like the radio controls on the steering wheel and cup holders when the back seats fold down, but it was the major discoveries that sealed the deal. My two older children not being able to reach each other during an argument and there’s enough room to fit my sister’s little family in with ours. I even began to think it was possible to feel cool in a minivan.
Life began to change. I bought more groceries because I had more room. I took the neighbor kids to school because they fit. I couldn’t wait for soccer registration! Yes, the minivan life transition was in full swing.
Now, it would be an all out lie if I said I wasn’t sad when we sold our SUV or that I never looked enviously at our neighbor’s expensive and beautiful Toyota Sequoia. After all, a minivan is a minivan. But I can say that the minivan transition was not the monstrous Frankenstein transition I had expected. It was more like the childhood to adulthood transition: It can be painful, perhaps embarrassing, but once you’re there, it can be quite comfortable and downright enjoyable!
The most enjoyable part was how I found the minivan. I began searching online and wasn’t having any luck researching vans. Then I found CarTango. Thank goodness for this awesome Web site! I was able to search for a pre-owned van in the color I wanted. Unfortunately, there was not any in blue available in my area. What a surprise to find out, a few days later I checked my email. I received an email from Cartango letting me know there was now a van in blue at a dealership only seven miles from my home!
Minivans—the best kept secret.