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)


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