Feb 16, 2010
01:18 PM

The Many Uses of a Minivan

The Many Uses of a Minivan

Photo: Lukáš Patkaň

Desperation can be an excellent motivation for creativity, adaptation, and using things in an off-label manner (think Benadryl).

Our minivan is another example. It’s a typical eight-seater with the most space for stuff our modest budget could buy back in 2003, when it became our first “new” vehicle ever and replaced a white Jeep Wagoneer I loved to drive (it made me feel macha, adamantine and bullet-proof) but couldn’t pass the DEQ exhaust test to save its life.

So our destiny as minivan mamas was sealed.

My wife test-drove it, even though we all knew I’d be the one ferrying folks around town and hauling groceries home from Costco. Salesmen make me nervous, and driving a strange car while struggling with anxiety is not my idea of a good time. But I went along for the ride, with the baby in his car seat, and gave it my stamp of co-approval before my spouse signed on the dotted line.

It has been an amazing purchase, and not because it represented a one-way ticket to stereotypical soccer-mom status (that of a sexless, selfless American mother in a team sweatshirt), I could do without that, though my wife never considered that a concern (and no one would mistake her for a soccer mom, either).

It is the flexibility of the thing that’s most appealing. It’s not just a vehicle for transporting people, pets and things, it’s an office, it’s a studio, it’s a sleeping chamber for a tired toddler, it’s a room where my wife and I can talk without a teenager listening in and a boudoir when we’re really desperate for some privacy.

Totally serious.

Life with kids is like being on camera at all times—in the minivan, if my wife and I manage to bribe an older kid into sitting the youngest so we can have a date, we can talk about birthday plans, rank on our relatives without setting a bad example, smooch if we feel like it (without someone wedging between us and shoving—sometimes a kid, sometimes the hundred-pound Labrador), or anything else we feel like getting up to.

Tinted windows.

Totally serious about the other uses as well. I wrote an entire manuscript in the front seat while the kid was napping, painted portraits of dogs behind the wheel (me, not the candids, they were usually posed in a more natural setting since I work from photographs), and used the back for holiday hiding since none of the kids have keys, whereas, if they tried, they could access any part of the house seeking a Christmas present cache.

The list could go on: changing room, dining on the go, portable closet, escape zone for when there are houseguests and you just need a moment to yourself, an insulated neutral zone for the occasional spat.

I’m convinced that there is a market for these myriad uses among the mommy set, soccer supporter or not, and that the minivan industry is seriously missing out on an untapped market: the desperate parent with no private place besides the privy. I’d happily volunteer as spokesmodel, though a sliding door and one hundred and forty-nine cubic feet of cargo capacity can never replace feeling adamantine behind the wheel. 

 

Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)


 

Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed