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.