Wednesday, January 20

Shifting gears

I got my first minivan in 1994. One of those little Mercury Villager vans. I had two little boys, and it was the sensible thing to do. Those sliding doors made getting kids in and out of carseats so much easier.

Then in 1998, now with three little boys, we moved to a large city, and I got a station wagon. The safety ratings on the wagon were so much higher than the van's, and my husband was much happier at the thought of my driving in city traffic with a little more substance between the kids and the highway.

Those little kids, though, turned out to be big boys. Very big boys. And I learned that very big boys sharing a backseat can make for very tiresome travel. So again I turned to a minivan. I remember when I was shopping for a van--my oldest son entreated, "Get one with a DVD player!" "In your dreams," I replied. I chose the make and model I wanted, a nice big van with four captain's chairs--one for me and one for each boy. Just as I was about to sign the papers to seal the deal, the salesman said, "Oh, by the way, we're having a special promotion. With every new minivan comes a free DVD player." Never before or since has it been so easy to make a kid's dreams come true.

That minivan saw a lot of use. I loved it. A separate seat for every boy ensured argument-free travel (well, mostly argument-free). The DVD player made long trips much easier. I was one of the moms who could transport six kids on a field trip.

My husband, however, hated it. In a word, he loathes minivans. He drove it only on family trips, and then only reluctantly. He was eager for me to get rid of it. I clung to it.

Time passed. My boys got bigger and bigger, but my load got smaller. My oldest went off to college. My middle son got his own driver's license and wanted to drive himself places. So, for the most part, I was down to transporting just my youngest son and myself. Not much need for a seven-passenger vehicle any more.

And so, last summer, the era of the minivan ended. It seemed like a rite of passage somehow. As a young adult I drove a small car. Then I had kids and needed a larger vehicle. The kids grew and I needed an even larger vehicle. Now I'm back to a small car. So cute, so sporty. It's easy to maneuver, easy to park, easy to fill with gas. What's not to like? Except for the fact that it signals that my little ones aren't so little anymore, I mean.

I've shifted gears. I don't need a big vehicle any more.

But would you look at this? Today I made a special trip to Target to buy a long-needed and carefully considered new vacuum cleaner. And guess what won't fit in the trunk of a little car?

Ah, well. At least he kept me company as I drove home.


  1. Richella, I love your name!

    I just came over to thank you for commenting on my blog yesterday. I got quite sidetracked in Romans 8 yesterday. I used it in today's post too. I told my husband this morning that it just keeps getting deeper and deeper...

    Anyway, so nice to 'meet' you - thank you for your voice in my world!

  2. Great post. Yup, have a big suburban toting these kids around. Except 2 are driving now and it's changing a bit ... :)

  3. I had to laugh at this post. I've owned 3 minivans and it was very sad when those days ended. The chauffeuring and van full of kids to one sports event or another are all just memories. *tear*

    My current vehicle, a Honda Pilot, was picked because it's great for travel....with our 80 pound dog! She's only allowed in my car on road trips and our stuff goes on top in the Tule carrier. She's so furry she does errands with us only in "the stinky car (hubby's) that has the perfect back end for her comfort, her fur, and her dog smell. She's in heaven as she travels around town from TJ Maxx to Trader Joes to Pottery Barn, not in the summer of course.

    I'd love to have back the days of my minivan!

  4. oh, i am still clinging to mine :) for a bit longer... but i so loved your story! and you made me laugh... chatting with the vacuum :) vrooom!

  5. I'm just about to enter the minivan stage. =) This was a sweet post to give me a glimpse of what the years to come hold in store.

  6. Who would have thought a post about mini vans would make me teary-eyed. It truly is the end of an era for you. I won't be giving up my mini van anytime soon. And I'm not sure I ever will. By the time my youngest is a teenager, I will likely have more grandchildren. My granddaughter will be 10 and she will be asking me to take her places with her friends. Etc. I love my mini van! :)

  7. I had to laugh too. We did the minivan thing also, and as our needs changed I switched to a small suv crossover. Fast forward to daughter #1 out of the house, daughter #2 in high school and my dreams of buying a small two-seater sports car in sight.Yeah! God laughed at my dreams -- got a surprise blessing at 42. Boy, do I miss the minivan doors now Ha. Blessings!

  8. Love it. For us it was a Suburban. I couldn't wait to get a smaller car again. Any I have driven home with furniture in the passenger seat as well keeping me company.
    I like it unless I have to sit in the back with everyone else...then it gets a little tight.

  9. This is so refreshing for me to hear of others loving their mini-vans as much as I do. Most Mom's in my neighborhood say they wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan! So instead they struggle getting little ones into their SUV's and breaking up fights in the back seats! I have loved our minivan and I still drive one. Great visibility, comfortable, room enough to haul around sport equipment and other stuff, space for all our vacation toys. What is not to love!!

  10. I recently sold my mini van for a much smaller car. I love my car, but I do miss the van....

  11. No minivan for me. I drove a two dor suv when the girls were tiny - then a 4door car from you know where. I traded in the car for a big black extended cab truck which had plenty of room for us - but luggage and bad weather were challenging. Now I have a big honking SUV that I adore - funny thing - everyone in the family wants to drive my vehicle. Why I didn't do this before is beyond me?

    I sure love coming here.

  12. I was just thinking about what we'll buy when our 13 year old minivan bites the dust. Probably another minivan, since the oldest of my five is only 13, but someday it will be a smaller car...but then how will I bring home 4 x 8 sheets of plywood?? ;)

  13. I got my one and only minivan in 2003. I LOVE it (even though when I got married I promised my husband I would never ask for one....he feels the same way yours does) It just hit 100000 miles yesterday. My boys are 5 and 7. I will drive it until it falls apart and then I will say goodbye van and get something for me! I really identified with your thoughts! BTW have the Dyson and LOVE it!

    I'll use the mans truck when I need to "haul"something!

  14. If I come to visit will you take me for ride in your sporty car? I bet it's clean too with nary a stale french fry in sight. Obviously I am still in the land of the minivan...and it's words like yours that make me grateful for it.

    I can't believe you hosted DIY day. How fun! If I'd known I would have gotten something ready a little sooner.

  15. When we found out in 1999 that we were pregnant with Kiddo, we shifted gears from having a cute little Corolla and Ford Ranger that we both LOVED to having a Corolla and a Mazda MPV. Sound Man got the Corolla and I got the little Minivan. I loved it. Except for the fact it kept breaking down. But I did love it. We got it completely fixed and two weeks later a lady crashed into me and totaled my cute little MPV. It was paid for, too. So, as any growing (or so we thought) family needs, we bought the first thing that came as a good deal...a girl at Sound Man's office was selling a Chevy Astro van. It's NOT a minivan. Let me say that I've hated it since about the second year we've had it, and we've had it for about 7 years.

    I think one of the reasons I don't like it anymore (aside from the fact that it continues to fall apart...grrrrr) is that it reminds me daily that we never had any more children with which to fill it. And while I have accepted that fact as the Lord's will in our lives, I don't like the big, ugly reminder in the driveway.

    Sigh....I wish I could "shift gears" into something smaller, too!

  16. I never thought I'd be a mini van mama, but I am I ever one now! :) Do you know what kind of stuff we've hauled in it? It's definitely a wanna be pickup. I bet it's kind of fun zipping around in your smaller car, though :) Love ya~

  17. What a great resource!


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