We need a new car real bad. Our 2002 Volvo V40 is still chugging along, but she bears the scars of overuse and a particularly obvious bumper injury sustained when a texting UPS driver rear-ended us. Her backseat is littered with Cheerios and Goldfish, kid books and used tissues. Our two toddler seats barely fit there, leaving a space in the middle that was just big enough for our cocker spaniel (but then he died, unrelated to the lack of backseat space). She’s carried us between Brooklyn and Burlington too many times to count, but we’ve simply outgrown the compact wagon.
Naturally, my mind travels to minivan land. My husband, however, refuses to go there with me. He actually forbids me from crossing the border myself. The minivan, you see, signifies the end – the real and true and final end – of his life as he knew it before kids.
While I was pregnant with our first child, my husband fought me on things like a receptacle specifically for diapers, a surface expressly for changing those diapers and the need for multiple baby carriers (a sling for the newborn days, a Baby Bjorn for facing forward, the Ergo for everything else). He eventually gave in on those and several other points, and we now own what seems to be required reading, feeding, playing, strolling, wearing and sleeping gear for our demographic. And it’s mostly really useful stuff. I’ve got a good track record on the kid front. Why, then, wouldn’t we simply fall in line with the boxy seven-passenger vehicle of our choice?
I remember the first minivan my parents ever owned: a bright red Caravan circa 1992. Its back and “way back” seats allowed the four of us kids to stretch our legs, avoid having to touch each other (remember summer trips with sweaty, sticky thighs in a non-air-conditioned sedan?) and meant that nobody would have to sit in between my parents in the front seat. We rode in that Caravan all the way down to Disney World from Vermont without a major sibling incident. The space it provided was practically life-changing.
The fact that my Dad still drives a minivan tells me that it was not a terribly traumatic decision for him back in the day and that the soccer-mom staple proved itself quite functional. But times have changed. Dads have changed. If it was the norm a generation ago for dads to withhold affection and emotional support, it’s now the norm for them to withhold some small part of their identity that ties them to their pre-fatherhood selves. For my husband, that piece of himself apparently rides shotgun in his car. Who knew?
So I’m trying my best to be understanding of this, while simultaneously grumbling about leg room and cargo space (the fact that I regularly use the term “cargo space” in earnest reinforces just how much of a grown-up I’ve already become). I’ve researched crossover vehicles (it’s a very broad category), SUVs (can we honestly drive a gas hog with a clear conscious?) and other wagons, but I’ve yet to find the perfect non-minivan option. Any suggestions? My husband will love you if you convince me that such a thing does exist…
(Photo: Comstock Images)