Today I went to Costco. As you can imagine, in the life of a stay-at-home mom, this is not an unusual experience (especially at 11am). Where else would I get the best prices on 12 litres of milk and stain remover in bulk??
Anyway, as I was waddling through the parking lot I happened to notice a bumper sticker on someone’s Volvo:
Which got me to thinking. OK, first of all, I recognize that it’s at least sort of tongue-in-cheek, or a sort of joke. Second, I do question the taste of anyone who uses bumper stickers, and especially ones that say ‘Pirate Girl’. Third, any vehicle you choose has its own connotations in peoples’ minds, and this person was driving a boxy, safe, ‘family-friendly’ Volvo, which has got to say something.
But as a stay-at-home mommy, I’ve started to see some of the merits of the minivan. Those sliding doors are awfully convenient, plus all that space for carrying stuff like dogs, diaper bags, and double strollers. (Not to mention our inevitable future of sports bags, mountain bikes, and hordes of friends….) They have better gas mileage and technically more cargo room than a comparably-sized SUV, plus they have all sorts of cleverly well thought out features that make so much sense when you’re hauling a wee one or two around in the back seat. I know, I know, they’re big and wide and not all that sexy. I too am torn between driving something slick and something sluggish. Indeed, only a short year and a half ago, we bought our new blue car, and I titled my blog posting “NOT a Minivan“.
But actual evidence of evil? Perhaps that’s taking it a *bit* far. What is it about the minivan that is so threatening? Well, speaking from my own perspective, becoming a parent is a bit of a process. You get pregnant, and that’s all exciting and all, but you don’t really get what’s about to happen to you. And then suddenly you have a screaming red-faced blob in your house and your life turns upside down. As the months go by, routine sets in, understanding sets in, and your whole identity changes. You start to appreciate that you have to become flexible, and you start to appreciate things that make life easier. Details that used to seem irrelevant or like overkill (tinted windows in the backseat to protect little eyes from blinding sunbeams, a ‘conversation mirror’ so you can see the backseats while you’re driving, or ‘stow ‘n’ go’ seats) now make SO MUCH SENSE. Minivans are designed for families, and until you’re a parent, it’s hard to see the appeal.
Now, from the non-parent outside world, the minivan seems to represent ‘settling’ for a suburban, mundane, child-centred life: ferrying kids here and there, hauling around strollers strewn with cheerios and spit-up, and McDonalds’ Playplaces. From the outside world, it doesn’t look like a very appealing existence. It’s like giving up on some ideal, and ‘giving in’ to familyhood. But when you’re no longer on the outside looking in, and are actually living the life, you see that the minivan is actually not so bad. In fact, some parts of them are downright tempting.
So the minivan represents giving in to family life, in many ways. And apparently, that is ‘evil’.
Am I the only one who feels distressed that mommyhood and ‘giving in’ to being part of a family are so threatening to people?
Will we get a minivan? I don’t know. We’ve debated it. We agree that it is probably a better fit for our family than the Outback, at least for the next ten years or so. But I too am resisting the identity shift that is required to drive one. I’m much closer than I used to be, however…..