I have had the same idea of a “dream car” since I was in high school… a 1982 Volvo station wagon, in white, converted to run on veggie oil. I was very, very close to buying one that had already been converted right before I got pregnant with Ace 5 years ago, but at the last moment decided I needed something a bit more practical. We ended up with small Nissan, and it was fine. I didn’t know about car seats back then, so installing my rear facing monster of a seat made me realize that there was no way our car would work for two kids, especially two rear facing kids. By the time we got pregnant with Lou, our lease was up, and it was time.
Time for the minivan.
I may have a slightly outdated vision on what is cool. 1982 Volvo station wagon? Very cool. 2011 Honda Odyssey? Not cool. But, that is what we ended up purchasing and it took me literally less than 3 hours to declare it the best thing I have ever driven and will probably ever drive. Definitely not the coolest, but when you have heated seats and and doors that open with a button who cares about cool. Certainly not me.
What can our mini-van do? The back row folds completely flat so I can pack just about any furniture that I find while thrifting into the back. Once I stuffed two assembled bookshelves and a learning tower back there. It has outlets to charge up the iPads and a built in DVD system in the ceiling. I didn’t even know things like this existed. There is a sunroof that I like to open as I play loud 90s music when I am by myself on the way to my Saturday night moms only book club. Epitome of cool right there.
I’ve changed diapers in the back of the minivan. I’ve nursed babies in the front, the back, and the way, way back. I’ve stuffed 8 people in for a road trip, I’ve transported 12 tree stumps for a project, I’ve used it as a refuge when I need 5 more minutes to myself, and as a place to nap when our A/C broke on a 117 degree day.
I hear a lot about how buying a minivan is “giving in.” Or sometimes, giving up. I totally understand that perspective, and I probably even felt the same way before I test drove one. But for us it came down to what is most convenient, safest, and able to accommodate our growing family (and my thrifting habits). So instead of framing it as giving in, I’ve tried to think of it as leveling up.
I hope to get my Volvo someday, but I’m never giving up the minivan life.