I remember the solemn moment. The moment my dream car, my yellow Volkswagon Beetle, died. RIP, Daisy! Not that I had driven her in two years because rear facing car seats do not fit in the back of Bugs … I tried. My poor 6’2” husband had to drive that tiny hatchback in all of its girly glory until she passed into vehicle heaven. I drove his man-car until that fatal day.
And that’s when she entered our life. As if the mom bun and spit up on my shirt weren’t branding enough, I now had to take it to the streets. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to join the club with which I was now automatically associated. But alas, I took her for a test drive and she soon became part of our family. The minivan. Just slap on that stick-figure family decal and a soccer mom bumper sticker and call me “Super Mom.” Just super.
I lamented for all of 5 minutes … and then I was in love! I realized right away that this was the mom version of a Trapper Keeper. It has the versatility of a backpack with tons of zippered compartments. And stumbling upon some secret surprises feels equivalent to the joy in discovering that the dress you are wearing has pockets. As functional and convenient as it is, it must have been designed by a mom.
If you are on the hunt for a new vehicle to transport you and your troop from school to the doctor to the store to home to soccer to home to dance to the store to home again, then just pass up that line of glistening SUVs at the dealership and head straight to the aisle of minis. Why? Oh, I’m so glad you asked.
I sit just below 5’7”, with a shorter torso and longer legs and I can streeeeeetch myself out in that front passenger seat no problem! Perfect for those long road trips where I kick back and close my eyes to catch a few zzzs. The second row sits far enough away that my kids don’t constantly kick our seats like they do in our sedan. And the third row of my minivan has more leg room than my husband’s old Jeep. When I have the second row middle seat stored away (see customizable seating below), I can easily walk into my car to strap kids in the third row without having to climb over other seats or kids.
But all cars have cup holders! Yes, yes. But does your car have TWELVE cup holders? I have six in my middle console alone! And yes, I often use every last one of them. Just one run through Sonic during Happy Hour and there’s 5 gone right there. Plus with the remnants of my caffeinated beverage from early morning carpool (perhaps yesterday’s is still there as well), the cup holders I use for pencils, pens, scissors and crayons for homework on the go, and each of the door cup holders with their water bottles, I’m not sure how anyone survives with fewer!
My minivan seats 8… or it can seat 5… or 6… or 2… or 7 or…. Not only do the back seats fold down, or one up and two down, or two up and one down, or all up or all flat or and tucked neatly away, but the middle seats can be rearranged too! The middle seats move forward and back, two captains chairs can turn into a bench seat with or without a third seat in the middle. That second row, middle seat tucks nice and neat into the floorboard and the passenger captains chair can slide right next to the driver’s side chair. Or you can leave it where it is. Or you can take it out completely. Shoot, just take the whole middle row out and then there’s like a limousine length between you and your kids who are having a contest to see who can make the most annoying sound in the world. I have three gold medalists right there! Just crank up those rear speakers and you and hubby can have a delightful adult conversation. Maybe you can actually finish a sentence or few between the two of you for once.
The minivan is the ultimate garage sale vehicle. I once fit an 8-foot long rattle box tree that I found one glorious Saturday morning. It has also fit armoires, tables, mattresses, plywood, chairs, luggage for road trips, and my entire booth set up when I worked craft fairs. Not to mention being able to fit everything from your Costco run (kids included) comfortably. People are always amazed at my van’s ability to hold an endless amount of stuff much like Mary Poppins’ bottomless bag or a clown car. Yes, more like a clown car.
Months after owning my minivan I happened upon a secret compartment: a drawer underneath the front passenger seat. Bonus storage?!? The Compartment for Dirty Diaper Disasters (The C3D). A few diapers, wipes and a change of clothes fit perfectly inside! And then the angels sang and plucked their harps. The mom-mobile strikes again!
Sits Like a Sedan
The minivan sits low to the ground. Now, it may not do well for muddin’ in the fields, but when all you do all day is lift those heavy car seats with those chunky babies strapped in, it makes it so much easier when you don’t have to heave the car seat over your head. You simply extend your arms in front of you to lock it in place. You don’t even have to use the handle to help you climb into your car to help buckle the rest of your kids in … the same little toddlers that were able to climb into the car all by themselves. That, my friends, is a victory.
And the mother of all features … Sliding, Automatic Doors
This is the most glorious thing to ever come to a vehicle since the A/C. I kid you not. At the touch of a button, these doors open and close. You can access it by key or by buttons on the dash. I did not know how much I needed this feature in my life until the first time I tried to get into the van after a car parked too close to my mini in the parking lot. I had no trouble at all getting the car seat in since my sliding door didn’t need to swing open. And with all that extra leg room, I was able to walk into the van and climb into the front seat easy peasy. I wasn’t even mad at that terrible parking job … I took it as a challenge! Game on.
Many of us have already traded in our heels for flats, our flat iron for mom buns and our pencil skirts for sweats, so we may as well apply it to what we drive as well. Comfort and convenience over style … no shame in that! No matter what those SUV moms say, we still hold loads of cool points accumulating in all of our extra cup holders and secret compartments. And just like the crumbs in our van, they pour out onto the asphalt as we open those magic doors in that carpool line.