by Alice Seuffert
The calendar read 2008. I was the ripe old age of 29, hair foiled blonde, clothes stylish and free of children’s boogers or breast milk. My husband and I were starting to feel nested. After years of college and then grad school, life was finally settling down. We had jobs and had just bought a house. Our nights were spent with friends sipping craft beer, unaccountable to anything or anyone. When the clock hit 9 a.m. on the weekends, we’d slowly roll out of bed and contemplate important things like where we should grab brunch, the next house project we’d tackle, and when nap time was going to take place—our nap time.
I remember the day of “the conversation” distinctly; we walked out of work together with the exodus of other employees. We sat down together in our car, our one car, which was, by all means, really all we needed.
“I have some really great news!” my husband said as we sat down in the car.
“My mom and dad are giving us their minivan!”
“Wait, what?” No. No. No, I kept repeating in my head.
“Yeah, my mom and dad are getting a new car. They’re giving us their minivan.”
“I don’t want a minivan. I’m not getting a minivan.” We didn’t have kids. The car symbolized something I didn’t want to be or embrace. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know what I’d drive when I became a mother, but surely it would be cool and it certainly would not be a minivan.
The conversation continued at home. At one point I was face-deep into a pillow, sobbing like a wronged kid, pounding the pillow, “I. Don’t. Want. A. Minivan.”
“Well, you’re getting one.”
And weeks later I owned a minivan.
The minivan was my first step into motherhood, before I even knew I wanted to be a mother. The first time we walked out to our minivan after work went as well as expected. Out of the mouths of our coworkers were jabs at the childless couple driving around an empty minivan.
“Nice minivan!” they’d yell.
“Shut the hell up,” I’d mumble as I threw my bag into the front seat.
The months went on, and I started to find her big bulk endearing. Grocery trips with a multitude of bags fit perfectly within her structure. Road trips meant we could bring anything and everything. And we did.
Our real friendship began, though, when she carried my first baby home from the hospital safely. I remember sitting in the passenger seat looking back at my beautiful baby girl. Our new family was safe in the minivan’s mass.
My minivan has been a cocoon surrounding me through my motherhood growth. She was there for my first daycare drop off, and she’s been there for the ugly cries, when I’m not sure if I can go to work some days. The tears when I look up at the daycare goodbye window and watch as my daughter tries carefully unfold her chubby little fingers to make the I love you sign to me.
My minivan has seen other questionable mom-life moments, too, that I don’t share with others. She doesn’t judge when I try to drive, eat hardboiled eggs, and drink my coffee with one hand, as I pray that I make it to work on time. She supports me with the best light possible as I sit and pluck those chin hairs that have unexpectedly popped up these past few years. And she doesn’t laugh or question my age or appropriateness when I sing and hand dance to Taylor Swift, Beyoncé or even Jay Z.
She’s been there for the really great family moments, too. The crunch cones from Dairy Queen, rhyming songs we make up about our farts and poop, road trips and our first family camping trip. She’s even been there for the really simple moments, too, when I hold my husband’s hand on date nights.
Our minivan is getting old and bit rusty on the outside, just like me. She’s dirtier than I should let her get, but my hair is holding way more dry shampoo than I should admit. I’m thankful to have my minivan and glad she’s been my friend. Not perfect, not necessarily cool, but solid and strong—just like my mothering.
Alice Seuffert is an education researcher, television foodie and blogger who writes about parenting and creative comfort food at Dining with Alice. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.