Minivan Mafia

In high school, I stood around the periphery of the cool kids. I was an athlete, invited to parties, but too tall and unsure of myself to ever win Homecoming Queen. I remember, one time my sister and I were driving to Starbucks and we saw a group of girls from her grade and I offered to roll my window down so we could shout hello.

“Don’t you dare, I am driving a minivan. This is so embarrassing!”

I was confused. My older sister was, in my eyes, the coolest, most beautiful licensed driver on the road, what did it matter what she was driving? She could drive! I noticed a shift happen that day, suddenly it could matter what other people thought.

Several months ago, one of my best friends made the leap from SUV to minivan with the impending arrival of their 7 year-old-daughter from China with Down Syndrome (who is now here safe and sound!). For Allie, she was sold because, unlike her giant boys, June would need easy accessibility in and out, with a vehicle that sat lower to the ground in order to accommodate her smaller stature. We took it out for a spin the night she got it and I suddenly felt something as surprising as me having the energy for a 3rd child; I had minivan envy. I needed those dual automatic sliding doors almost as badly as I will need a stress-free last labor with the world’s most effective walking epidural.  

During the transition between 2 to 3 kids the driving lines get divided into two categories; those in an SUV elegant enough for Obama’s presidential motorcade and those in the soccer-mom-minivan. Let me be clear, there is nothing sexy about a minivan. You will never again get checked out at a stoplight unless it is by another mother admiring your passion for safety and sensibility. My move to a minivan, the very definition of a first world problem, manifested as the 5 stages of grief—the last stage occurring at the Honda dealership. I felt the wave of acceptance embrace me with the pillowy bosom of leather seats and the sound of radio silence as my two children watched The Little Mermaid with headphones; seated far enough away from me that I happily cannot hand them anything in our newly implemented snack-free spaceship. The decision was clear—I no longer held onto any lingering thoughts of the cool vs the uncool, it can only be about the practical vs impractical. And there is 0 room for impracticality with 3 kids under 5.

Since obtaining our 2019 Honda Odyssey EX-L I have done my duty to recruit as many moms as I can to join our Minivan Mafia. It is not a tough sell since all of my mom friends, like me, give exactly 0 pieces of French toast about what other people think, and pay each other compliments like, “What a smart decision for your family.” So I went ahead and programed NPR into my preset stations, while still not cutting my hair, and I recognize that the only people whose opinion really matter call me Mom and think I am simply the coolest.


In this Together

I got into the habit of rubbing my belly every time I got up in the night to use the bathroom, which is often. It started with my first, as a means of disbelief that there was someone inside me and even in the depths of the night I wasn’t alone. I continued to do so with all 3 pregnancies and now I recognize that with each loving pat and every grunt and lumbering sleepy step, it’s my way of telling them, we are in this together.

What a beautiful thought, this is, to hold in our hearts lately. I try and carry it, share it, and pass it to my girls where I can. It feels like my sunshine state is bleeding and when we look to the orange "leader", he offers nothing but hate, lies, and more toxicity. I recognize that in the past we were able to rely on our President for sensitivity and most importantly hope, but believing that Trump is capable of this is like begging for a drink from a well that never contained water to begin with. If I wanted to choose resentment, I could make myself sick over it; like stepping outside and taking in a breath of this contaminated, smoky air and screaming aloud in frustration when I can only wheeze and choke. It is tempting to feed into the negativity and sit in anger and fear because these feelings are so large they feel like actions, but they aren’t helpful and those flames don’t need to be fanned any bigger.

I know a lot of people have quoted Mr. Rogers during our country’s string of relentless tragedy after tragedy. But its simplicity and belief in the human spirit is something I can grab hold of and most importantly, I can translate to my own children. He said, “When I was a boy and I’d see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people that are helping.”” Instead of looking to someone that has shown time and again he is incapable of empathy; I have found that those around me whom I’ve loved all along, have chosen to be the helpers and thus inspired me to do the same. I look everywhere and see grace and giving. My best friend, has finally reached her daughter on the other side of the world—and they view her extra chromosome as an enhancement, providing a better life not just for June, but for all that are lucky enough to love her. Others are offering their homes to displaced families from the fires, working to change gun legislation laws, or simply saying thank you in the form of chocolate chip cookies we made for our local firefighters and first responders. I’m hoping that my words somehow drift out into the darkness and people can reach up and pull from them a small nugget of needed good and recognize that we are still in this together.


Explaining October

At the beginning of the month, our neighbor’s oak tree was tpeed, likely because they have a daughter on the high school volleyball team and October seems to be the peak month for teenage pranks. When we came outside Charlotte looked up confused and asked why there was toilet paper in the tree and then added, “Toilet paper is only for wiping your bottom.”

You are not wrong, my dear. And this is what kicked off explaining October.

1). An Autumn Education

Instead of listening to our typical Disney songs in the car, our rides are now exclusively for explaining why houses are sprinkled with pumpkins and 6-foot spiders dangling from driveways. Sometimes I take it one step too far during their autumn education and realize too late that I probably shouldn’t tell a 3-year-old everyone has a skeleton underneath their skin.

2). Strangers with Candy

I am ridiculously excited to watch my daughters finally be old enough to partake in the full trick-or-treat experience--the only time in the year we encourage them to ring doorbells and receive candy from strangers.

3). Emo-free Costumes

If your child is between the ages of 2 and teenager then chances are they have strong opinions about what their Halloween costume will be and planning will begin as early as November 1st. Recently my friend told me her 4-year-old wanted to be Jane Goodall (um adorable) and her 18-month-old was going to be a monkey. Spoiler alert; the kids have moved on—their mom, not so much.

As a parent:       

a. Never get emotionally attached or show any affinity for a particular costume—especially a family costume. If you get too enthusiastic over an idea, your kid will smell it on you, and suddenly Ruth Bader Ginsburg can turn into Queen Elsa faster than you can say, “I dissent”.


b. Wait until the last possible second to purchase the costume as it is going to change at least three dozen times, with the last dozen occurring in the final week.

c. Stay off Pinterest. A white sheet has the ability to make a scary ghost or accidentally get your child suspended.

4). Pumpkin Patch Pleasures

Why buy a pumpkin at the store for $1, when you could spend $28 to dress your entire family in flannel only to lose your child in a maze and ride a tractor going 3mph? Or better yet swim in a pit of corn kernels, sensory dreams, and lost band-aids.


5). Jack-o’-Lantern Joy-Ride to Emergency

My kids are not really old enough yet for the carving of the pumpkin tradition, since they don’t have the dexterity to use sharp knives and aren’t allowed access to candles. But, we still have a week, as well as a low co-pay and a fire insurance clause in our property insurance.


Don’t get me wrong, I love October; from the weather to the smell of apple spice lingering in the air. When your kids are all about the why, as parents, it can be exhausting explaining everything. But it sure is fun convincing them I know why pumpkins are orange and that “Jack” from the jack-o’-lantern requires all Reeses’ as a toll for answering any more of their adorable questions.

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