About a month ago, we bought a used, Toyota Sienna minivan. I have been wanting one for a while, and now that we have one, I love it!! I love the wide, automatic side doors. I love that I don't have to bend over to strap Jack into his car seat. I love that our dog can jump in the back instead of my having to strap her into the front seat. I love the gas mileage - almost as good as my Altima - and the fact that it handles more like a car than a big ol' truck. I can't see why anyone with kids and dogs wouldn't want one.
I've gotten several knowing looks and ambiguous comments from friends: "So you sold out and bought a minivan," or "Why wouldn't you just get an suv?" Well, I'm not sure who I'm supposedly selling out to, for one thing. And the reason I wouldn't get an suv is because I don't like the way they handle, due to their being built on truck chassis. I don't like their low gas mileage, AND they don't have the awesome huge sliding doors my minivan has. You do not know how fabulous those doors are until you've tried to cram a wiggly toddler into a car seat in the back of a subcompact and hit your head on the door frame as you try to back yourself out of the space. I'm pretty sure they're going to save me big bucks in back therapy in the long run, especially now that we have kiddo number two on the way.
My mom asked me several years ago what my generation had against minivans, and I couldn't come up with anything substantive for her. It's just a stigma: the minivan-driving soccer mom who bakes fabulous zucchini bread and hasn't another thought in her brain besides the nagging underlying feeling that she's not really fulfilled and happy. This is part of my generation's denegration of the stay-at-home mom - part of our idea that you cannot possibly be intellectually fulfilled if you stay home with children, and if you are, you are a simpleton. While it's true it can be challenging to feel your needs for mental challenge are being met while you play "let's make Thomas the Train wreck and put him back together" for the eighty-ninth time, parenthood is not without it's intellectual challenges if you're really committed to doing a good job of it. Any parent who has come up with yet another creative solution to getting her child to brush teeth, put on pajamas and get in bed without a fight certainly feels she's met a challenge. And if you do feel you need more stimulus, you find intellectual pursuits in your "spare time" like write this blog.
At any rate, I'm glad I have the intellectual independence to eschew the negative stereotype of the minivan in favor of owning a vehicle that serves our family needs beautifully. (Did I mention the huge sliding doors?) The car industry has yet to come up with a better family vehicle, and the minivan is a vast improvement over the station wagon, with it's rear-facing rumble seat or the full-sized custom van that barely fits in a standard garage. And maybe some day when Jack is older, he'll do like I did with my parents' minivan. He and his high school friends will drive it to concerts so they can all ride together or take it on Spring Break trips where they can all hang out in the back and.... wait, I'm beginning to have second thoughts on this minivan thing.
P.S. I actually DO make fabulous zucchini bread.