Family life

Buying a minivan: My (painful) decision

It might be among the most popular vehicles for families, but Katie Dupuis thinks her cool factor took a hit when she got behind the wheel.

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I’ve never considered myself a cool-hunter. I was always just slightly late to a trend—as evidenced by my haircuts in my yearbook photos (I never did get “The Rachel” shag from Friends), the fact that I could never bring myself to wear leggings, and that when I finally read Twilight, at least two of the movies had already come and gone from theatres.

But that doesn’t mean I live under a rock, either. I’m a magazine and social-media junkie, so most of the time I do catch on—usually with just enough time to feel like part of the in-crowd before said trend is out the door. But, something happened recently that has pretty well ruined my street cred for good: With a two-year-old toddler and a new baby on the way, my husband and I made the painful (but economical and practical) decision to purchase a minivan.

Read more: In praise of the not-cute pregnant woman>

I know what most of you are going to say: Minivans are awesome! Who cares about being cool? Think of all the space! You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it! You could use it as a sick getaway car in the zombie apocalypse! Blah, blah, blah… The fact is, it’s still a minivan. Even in the swish blue-grey colour we chose, and with the backup camera and DVD player we opted for, I still felt old (and the opposite of hip) as we drove away from the dealership.

I sulked for a few days, envious of the sleek SUVs on the road. I knew, grudgingly, that the minivan made more sense for us than anything else. Then I pulled up beside a fellow minivan owner at a stoplight: The driver had a car full of kids, with the windows down and the music blasting. The brood in the backseat was singing at the top of their lungs, and I could hear their giggles from the next lane over. This family was totally rocking the minivan.

The baby in my belly kicked incessantly as I sat at the light, and all of a sudden, I could picture my family in five years, when Sophie is seven and little No-Name-Yet is four. I saw the van packed for road trips, first T-ball games, picnics in the country and that inaugural drive-in experience when they’re finally old enough to stay awake past dark. Could we have done these things in our sporty little pre-kid sedan? Maybe. But the minivan means room to grow (and room for an air mattress in the back for that drive-in movie). In that moment, while I listened to the kids a car over and imagined the days to come, the minivan and I came to an understanding. I won’t rag on it for making me feel like a wallflower at a high school dance, as long as it provides memories and adventures for all of our years together. And who knows, maybe my new mamamobile will become one of the coolest cars on the road, and I’ll finally be on the cutting edge of something. OK, fine. Maybe not. But at least it has eight cup holders.

A version of this article appeared in our August 2014 issue with the headline “Minivan mama”, p. 34.

Today’s Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie and husband Blaine. Read all of Katie’s Type A Baby posts and follow her on Twitter@katie_dupuis.