This post is dedicated to all the mamas who bloom where they are planted, making minivans and mic-key buttons the new cool. There are little reminders all around me telling me that my life is not my own, but instead driven by my medically complex child. Cars are just another reminder that I am on a different journey than I was before, you know, Holland and not Italy. This was prompted by an Instagram post I saw back in the summer from a super popular mommy blogger. It was during a particularly vulnerable moment of mine, but I found her words at that time to be another painful reminder. She wrote things like, “lord knows I refuse to get a minivan,” and #notaminivanmom. I am not a very sensitive person, but this post made me feel ashamed of my van. This may come as a shock, but it has not been my lifelong dream to drive a minivan. So I am as shocked as you to be writing a piece in defense of the minivan life. (haha!)
About a month ago, I got into a small accident in my beloved minivan. No one was hurt, but my car sustained a lot of damage. After almost 2 weeks, I finally got my van back yesterday and I am ecstatic. I quickly and proudly donned my new Littlest Warrior & Gwendolyn Strong Foundation stickers on the windows. They say amazing things like, “Dragon Mom, Never Give Up, Advocate Like a Mother”, etc. I have never put stickers or magnets on a car I have owned, but I am so proud of my van and the amazing things it allows me to do for my family. I have also always been paranoid about having stickers and magnets on my car in case I make another driver angry and they can identify my car easily by my stickers…er, I’m not known for being an amazing driver. (haha) BUT yesterday, I wanted to fully embrace my life and my love for my minivan by applying these incredibly meaningful stickers so my pride is displayed for the world to see now. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be driving and loving a minivan. But never in my wildest nightmares did I think I would have a child with a rare genetic disorder either. So I feel the need to take back the van, if you will; to empower those mamas rockin’ their vans and their different but beautiful lives!
When Jack was born, I drove a Kia Sorento and loved it. However, it was soon clear that the car would not work with Jack’s needs. I have been shuffling Jack back and forth to Atlanta (about a 2 hour drive) to see different specialists since his first discharge from CHOA at 2 weeks old. When he was little I couldn’t put him on a changing table for fear of germs (he was in the hospital all the time), and now he is way too big for a changing table. We have always and still do all diapers changes in the van when we are out. I do tube feeds, mix formula, give meds, whatever is necessary. I need the space. I have no idea how long Jack will be in diapers and having the peace of mind that I can just lay him down in the car and change him easily is wonderful. There are so many van things that I too used to think we super lame, but actually make all the difference in the world for me now. I am usually holding Jack when we are out and about and can’t put him down to open a door, but my van doors open for me. (woop woop!!) I can store Jack’s walker and stroller without putting the third row of seats down. The Tahoe I drove briefly couldn’t even do that (clearly, I’m impressed by big storage spaces). I know I haven’t done a great job of making minivans sound sexy so far, but sometimes practical is more important…we can add the sexy!
There are so many reason that I love my minivan. I can do so much inside it. Here are just few awesome things I have done easily in my minivan: changed clothes, napped, had sex in the front seats, peed in a cup, had an enjoyable dinner, had sex in the middle seats, changed a tampon, had a beer, built a fort, the list really goes on and on. I seriously have to ensure that we drive my husband’s car if we ever get to go anywhere solo because he automatically thinks that the two of + the van = a good time. It really doesn’t matter where we are going or what we have to do, if we are alone in the van then my husband thinks it’s go time! So I guess I would say that the minivan is the ultimate mom machine. wink wink!
Here’s what else I think about vans. They usually hold some incredibly kind and brave individuals, especially the really big and specially made ones. Some of Jack’s best buds from therapy have a really large van and Jack gets so excited to see it on Wednesdays. The family this van belongs to has several children, most are adopted and have different needs and abilities. I admire the mama of this family and I love seeing the van as well because it means I get to see her amazing kiddos and chat for a second. I never want another mom to feel ashamed of what she drives! I know it’s on me that the blogger’s comments made me feel less than, but I don’t think it’s a secret that minivans have a bad rep. AND of course I will take every opportunity I can to spread a little awareness. I think people (especially those with a platform) tend to forget their privilege. This anti-van mommy blogger, for example, has so many women listening and watching; no one wants to feel that their life is less than because of the car they drive. I can’t be her only (former) follower who drove a van. That’s why I also say that kindness is always the coolest!! Words have so much impact, especially on us medical mamas who already have to sift through the bullsh*t of what is said to us. I have plenty of daily reminders that my life is different, but it’s important to me to make sure everyone knows that different is not less! Different is beautiful, my van is beautiful, my life is beautiful, and I’m so proud of it all. ❤
This is me, my messy mom bun, and my vanny van with the new stickers!!