by Kerry Rivera
It’s funny how much your life can change in a decade. In my young 20s I envisioned the next 10 years to bring me a fast-paced career as a journalist, travel and maybe a child or two. I would be fashionable and cool and tuned into the latest trends. Fast forward to reality and I now work for a large corporation, travel typically consists of small road trips within the confines of California, I have a third baby on the way … and my husband and I are about to become minivan owners. Cue up the horror music and high-pitched scream!
It’s funny how a minivan can stir up such strong emotions. I often hear moms (and dads) talk about their vehicle preferences and how they refuse to drive the dreaded “people-mover.” They associate it with the polar opposite of “cool” and view it as one more thing stripping them of their former, youthful identity. Let’s face it … you never hear teenagers and young twenty-something’s aspiring to get a minivan.
In full disclosure, I work for a car company (Toyota), so you would think I would be obsessed with vehicles, but generally my own selections have been pretty practical. With a long commute, I opted to drive a Prius for the great gas mileage, and my other vehicle is a basic cross-over to serve the role as family car. But … with a third baby on the way and another car seat to cram into the back, the transition to the minivan seemed inevitable. Yes, there is the super-SUV with three rows, but the cost can get a little pricey and the gas mileage isn’t ideal. And maybe if we picked out “just the right” car seats, we could space three across our second row of seats. We could have shunned the minivan, but needless to say the “people-mover” is now parked in the garage.
I have to give my company some credit for their marketing of the Sienna. With the quirky parents, rap video and Modern Family-esque ads, the attempt is certainly made to make the Sienna (AKA “Swagger Wagon”) feel cool. Still, I don’t know if the best marketing in the world could transform the image of the minivan. It actually cracks me up about the strong reactions I get when I tell people about our new vehicle. “OMG – you’re one of those families now!” or “You’re officially a soccer mom.” The other camp – probably those who either own a minivan or did in the past – tell me how much easier it will be to get the kids in and out of the car, and how great they are for families. Surprise, surprise … no one tells me it is cool.
Oh well … I’ve become a minivan mom, but hopefully I can keep my edge in other areas of my life. A decade ago I said I’d NEVER drive a minivan, but here I am. Never say never, right? But I’d like to think my life is still cool. My family is fun, my career is plugging away and when there is time, I try to maintain some sort of individuality. I won’t let my car define me. It’s just one small piece of my life. And, like all moms, we are more than just moms. We’re also wives, professionals, volunteers, fitness fanatics, friends, daughters (the list goes on) … and every once in awhile, I still think can be pretty cool … even as I step out of my minivan.