Five years ago, in a haze of grief I went to the car dealer and signed off on the purchase of a mini-van. I fought it for years. The Husband wanted a mini-van before kids were even in the equation. He loved his Plymouth growing up and wanted to replicate those family memories. Also, he’s a tall man and let’s face it they are quite comfortable for the vertically gifted.
I on the other hand am the “car one” in this relationship. I love cars, fast ones, shiny ones, small ones. So I researched every other option. I even tried to talk myself into a gas guzzling SUV. Alas, I not only failed at justifying the foot print of any of the SUVs large enough to accommodate my family, I also could not afford any of them. So, we not only signed on for a mini-van, but we got the grandaddy of minivans, the originator of “minivan” the Dodge Grand Caravan. I desperately wanted a Volkswagen as I figured if I had to conform I’d at least do it in true hippie style. The price tag precluded that purchase as it did with the Honda and the Toyota as well. We left the showroom that dark night with a fully loaded, pimped out Dodge Grand Caravan for the same price as a stripped down model of any of the other three.I felt like I was driving a yacht.
And over the years I’ve openly mocked my van. I’ve expressed to anyone who will listen that I wish I had a different vehicle. I have wallowed in the un-coolness of the minivan and all that it stands for. I have driven countless miles in that thing, all the while checking out other cars on the road that would be alternatives and would make me feel less like and old mama and more like the young professional woman who used to drive a convertible.
Then this morning, ink on the very last payment check for said minivan still wet, I stood inside that monster buckling my smallest one in his seat while the skies opened outside. There I stood-bone dry-inside my vehicle. I thought of all the poor moms on carpool duty who were juggling an umbrella handle outside the doors of their Pilots or Acadias trying to buckle car seats with one hand and stay somewhat dry with the other. I pictured all the soggy kids who at that moment were flipping over leather seats to the third row. Thinking of that mud and grime on leather suddenly made the spilled milk on my van doors a little easier to handle. That’s when it hit me-this minivan, for all it’s total uncoolness, has served me quite well. Not only does it keep me dry in a storm, but it has been the workhorse of this family for over five years.
This weekend we moved three dressers into our home. Three. Full sized dressers. At once. We have traveled to beaches of North Carolina and Ocean City, MD together. We have made it to weddings and funerals and family parties all over the East Coast. I have nursed babies on the floor of the back with the seat tucked neatly underneath me. I have changed diapers and full outfits after road side accidents in the privacy of my tinted window van. My kids have room for lunch bags and activity kits and favorite stuffed animals when we go anywhere. We’ve never had to worry whether a car seat will fit or not. We’ve carried friends and neighbors and all their kids. That first weekend, when I signed papers in my haze of grief, we took our maiden voyage for a day of window shopping in a cute MD town and we carried all but one of my mom’s girls to spend the day together. At a time where we needed to be near each other most, that stinkin’ minivan ensured that we never needed to leave each other’s sides.
The Husband and I often get uninterrupted conversation time when we pop in a movie for long trips. Over the last five years some of our best married plans have happened in those captain’s chairs. And of course, I jammed all of our lives into that van to cross the Delaware River Bridge into our new lives. My kids were tucked, Tetris style, among pillows and potted plants and even though I was alone on the journey I never doubted for a minute that we would get there safe and sound.
It does not have a sexy bone in it’s car body, but my Dodge gets the job(s) done time and time again. It is reliable. It is dependable. It is safe. It is our Dodge Grand Caravan and as much as I hate to admit it, I have grown to love it so.
* I know this totally sounds like an endorsement but it’s not. I mean, I would love if Dodge sent over a shiny new minivan for me to take my family on a fabulous trip, but so far no such luck.;) I’m just a girl, finally admitting my heart has melted, stow-n-go style.
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