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I swore I’d never say it, but here we are: I want a minivan

It was 2008. I was still in my 20’s. Not yet a mom, but about to become one. We were relocating to a new state, so I was job-interviewing and house hunting.

Obviously I was going to be a super cute, trendy, working mom who raised her child in an eclectic, urban environment full of culture and diversity. Our Jeep was the perfect family car because of the cool parents we were destined to be.

I’d never EVER be a frumpy frazzled mom in a mini-van, living on a cul-de-sac where all the houses were nearly identical and a bland shade of gray.

Never.

Fast-forward nine years. My 20s are over. As are my working mom days. I’d like to say it was a slow progression into unshowered-SAHM-cul-de-sac-mini-van life, but to be honest, I sort of dove in head first. At home on my maternity leave, my husband looked at me one day and said, “You’re not going back to work, are you?”

And the rest just happened.

Suddenly, we found our house-hunting trips to be creeping west—away from the city. Bigger yards, better public schools and lower crime rates became our focus, rather than the nearest sushi and coffee bars.

The rows of grayish-tanish houses now looked appealing. They were so much bigger! And the baby just had so. much. stuff. And they had laundry rooms! And attached garages! The mom life was my new life, and every convenience that made my new role more manageable jumped to the top of my priority list.

And you know what happened next.

After settling into a house in a cul-de-sac and tripling my husband’s commute, we looked at our four bedroom house and thought, let’s fill this baby up! With, of course, another baby.

Upon bringing our second child home from the hospital, our beloved Jeep seemed a tad small all of a sudden. As in—my husband couldn’t sit comfortably in the driver’s seat anymore, now that the giant rear-facing car seat was behind him.

By this point, more than two years into this parenting gig, I knew my inevitable fate. I’d seen what the moms around suburbia were driving. I saw them running errands with their automatic sliding doors and giant trunk space. I saw how they’d stock up at Costco, fitting enough provisions to feed every kid in a 12-block radius.

So that December, mere days after my daughter was born, I said four words I’d vowed to never say: “I want a minivan.”

My husband didn’t fight me as hard as I thought he would. He knew, as did I, that we’d officially lost ALL of our cool points anyway. We hadn’t been out to happy hour in two years. All of my dry-clean-only Ann Taylor clothes had been pushed to the back of the closet as I’d adopted a new permanent yoga pant/hooded sweatshirt uniform. Our evenings were spent changing diapers, passing the baby and toddler back and forth, and falling asleep 10 minutes into a movie.

We surrendered.

And when we added baby number three two years later, we knew for sure. We’d never go back.

I was a #MinivanMom4life.

So yeah, a minivan was the logical final piece to my transformation. I was officially “that mom” I never thought I’d be. But you know what? It felt okay.

Actually, it felt better than okay. This was not the path I had started on, but it’s where I was meant to be. And that realization felt great.

I am comfortable in suburbia, at the end of a cul-de-sac, where my kids can safely ride their bikes in the street and hop from house to house snacking on cookies and juice boxes. And as a family who road-trips several times a year, I LOVE the space in our van. It’s like a house on wheels. Five suitcases, a bag of toys and car snacks, outlets to charge the iPad, and enough room for the kids to spread out so they can’t touch each other? Yes please.

With two boys who will fight over whether the sky is blue, my dream machine offers the perfect setup to ensure at least a 75% chance of harmony as we trek across the nation. Which, for Mom and Dad means actually getting to have a real, uninterrupted conversation now and then!

It’s also comforting to know that my family could probably live in my van in the case of a natural disaster or zombie apocalypse. It’s fully stocked with bottled water, granola bars and blankets. It’s my home away from home (or sometimes my actual home—as I feel like I am in that driver’s seat more than than my actual house) and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So adios, cool 20’s mom. You gave it your best shot, but you opted for comfort and convenience over trendiness and culture. But don’t worry, this eight seater takes the whole fam into the city on a regular basis. We can still hang with the cool kids. We just can’t always parallel park when we get there. 😉

Karen Johnson is a mom of 3 and writes at The 21st Century SAHM—a cathartic mix of sarcasm, angry Mama Bear rants, and heartfelt confessions. She works as assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds and has been featured on sites such as Babble and Scary Mommy, among others. Karen is also a regular contributor to KC Parent Magazine and has contributed to several anthologies. Follow Karen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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