About two months ago, we started to realize that the arrival of our second child meant that one of our cars, the little Corolla, was probably not a practical car for our family (my CRV is doing fine). Thus began the conversation about the minivan, something which I have found is dreaded by many people. Minivans do symbolize suburbia, lots of children, "mommy-ness" in a way that SUVs don't. And, here's what I have learned in the process:
-Considering a minivan asks you to determine how important vanity is...said a different way, how far are you willing to go for style over practicality? The car companies know that for many families, style is worth a lot. This is why an SUV that seats 7 or 8 will likely cost more for the same features than a minivan. It is also why the base model of most minivans have more features than the base models of other cars (XM radio, etc). I would compare this to shoes...I have a pair of 4 inch black patent heels that are adorable. I paid a little extra for the style, when I could have found a less expensive pair of black shoes. They make me feel great, but only work with certain situations. When I wear them, I can't comfortably carry my daughter! I also have a pair of black flats. They are nice enough, maybe even a little stylish when dressed up correctly, but are the shoes I wear when pregnant or in need of comfort. In fact, there is rarely an occasion for which these shoes would not work. To buy a minivan is to say that practicality has won. It is giving up the pumps and putting on the flats. Fortunately, the car companies have made minivans look sleek enough and put enough features that it feels like a pair of flats and not like really unfortunate sneakers!
-A minivan invites you to realize just how grown up you have become. There are moments when I believe we stop and think, "How did I end up here?" Whether it is first job, first house, marriage, first child...we realize that we are truly adults. To test drive a minivan, let alone buying one, is an acknowledgement of a specific stage of life. Yes, we are the people with two children who need to cart around a lot of junk. We are excited by the prospect of being able to change a poopy diaper comfortably on the floor of a van, or climb in to strap a child into a carseat. And, instead of thinking of flying off to some luxurious destination, the minivan just makes us want to take a fun road trip with the kids. My husband and I looked at the van and one another and both agreed--this is where we are in life. We may as well embrace it. One day, we will be done with the minivan stage of life and I am sure that too will come with a dose of shock and a little regret.
-A minivan is full of stereotypes. On the Toyota Sienna website, it has "Mommy like." The whole "Swagger Wagon" ad campaign is a response to the assumption that minivan drivers and families are boring. A friend told us that the minivan gets no respect on the highway. When I searched Honda Odyssey v. Toyota Sienna, I found an Orthodox website where people were weighing in on this exact question. When we told people that we were looking at a minivan, they just laughed. When we said that Micah would be driving the car, they laughed even more. Under #realmendriveminivans there are only about four entries. I am proud that my husband is willing to drive the minivan and thinks it is cool to make it his own and do this for our family.
I am proud to announce that, after a month or so of research and a test drive, we are now the proud owners of a 2013 Toyota Sienna. Mini-Van Morrison joined our family on September 27, 2013, and I am sure there will be a character in this next chapter of our family's story!