Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Great Debate

How many times have I heard a mom tell me, unsolicited, that they never thought they would drive a minivan and they can't believe they are driving one now? I pretty much hear it from every minivan driver I know and that statement is then usually followed by a list of justifications, again unsolicited, on why they "had to go with the minivan". I sat at dinner one night with a table full of moms and watched three different minivan drivers defend and justify adamantly why they drive a minivan. They were so heated in their defense to each other that an outsider would have thought a debate was going on, but they were all on the same side. And I noticed that the rest of us at the table who drive SUVs sat quietly. None of us were attacking them for their minivan choice. We never entered the conversation or the debate. But for some reason, they still felt the need to list all of the reasons why the minivan "just makes more sense".

The minivan can be a good option for families, but let's clear up a misconception: getting a minivan is NOT a rite of passage as a mother. Moms have told me that they now have to drive a minivan because they have kids. But, you don't have to drive a minivan if you don't want to. It is just one of several options out there on the market. Yes, minivans provide a lot of interior room and extra seating and someone once defended the minivan as "at the intersection of cost and space"; you get a lot of car for the money. These all seem like fine reasons to choose this type of car, but I don't need to hear your reasons. I'm not sitting in my SUV judging you for being in a minivan. And I guess if you are judging me for driving my SUV, I just don't care enough. Do minivan drivers ever notice that you don't hear SUV drivers defending their choice in car?

If you want me to defend my choice to drive an SUV, I can, but the reasons I drive my car also make me happy. I love my car; I just do. My car, or "truck" as some would call it because of its off-road abilities, is fun to drive, its comfortable, and I think its cool. I've been driving my particular make of SUV since before I had kids and it has always met my needs for hiking, skiing, and toting my dog around. When I did have kids, I upgraded to a newer model for better safety features and a couple extra seats, but it is still basically the same vehicle. And although, the most off-roading my car now sees is occasionally parking in a soccer field, it still meets my needs and I still love it. No, the doors don't magically open and close on their own and there's no aisle to walk through the car from front to back; if you are in the third row, you're pretty much stuck there. And yes, sometimes I find myself standing on my head cursing trying to get the third row of seats folded up or down, but these are all things that I gladly accept.

So, minivan drivers out there, please stop defending yourselves. If you feel like you were forced into getting a minivan, I'm sorry, that's not fair. And, I don't know who would do that to you. Honestly, some of the stories I've heard are horrible: tears on the way to the dealer to get the minivan, etc. How does that happen? Did someone take you to the dealer at gun-point? Two of my friends who feel they were "never really minivan drivers" have recently traded their minivans in for SUVs, so it can be done. If you feel upset or embarrassed to be driving a minivan, then don't. If you do like your mini-van, that's great, don't defend yourself. You should like your car; as a mom you spend a lot of time in it.

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