Like most other families, there has been a debate in the Hayes house for quite some time. How much time? About four years. The debate is simple and there's one side for and the other against.
My side: I have five kids. Any mother who has even one child will hopefully understand where I'm coming from and come to my defense. Let's cut to the chase here. I WANT A MINIVAN. There, I said it. I've been saying it for a while now and it’s time to go public. When I have to get kids in and out of the car, I would love the sensibility of sliding doors; ones that don't ding other cars. I would love the functionality of captain's chairs, so my older kids can get to their seats in the back without having to fold down other sections of the car. And I love the thought of being right at my children's level when opening their door, versus having to climb inside our car and then having to climb back out when I'm finished because our car isn't ground level. I know you mothers who are struggling daily like I am, not having a minivan, but are wanting one too, are totally on my side. And I KNOW without a doubt you mothers that are already driving them, are shoving your pompoms high into the air right now in support of eventually me owning one and becoming a member of your club. I can feel the love, thank you, and thank you.
But then, there's the debacle that I can't forget to mention: Are minivans cool? Well, not exactly. And in fact, they give off a vibe when I see one approaching me. The vibe that all minivan moms are crazy drivers; better clear the road, she's on a mission. Yeah she is, to get her clan that she's carrying to a soccer game, a ballet recital, or even head of the line at McDonald's drive-thru. I get it! I get it so much that I want to be in that circle. I have friends who own them. The street I live on has numerous drive-ways adorned by them. So I know that not only are they functional, but desirable. Yet I have one small problem…
My Husband’s side: my husband refuses to own one. He's a man, need I further explain? The day he pulls out of our driveway in a minivan is the day he turns in his "man card"...end of story.
As luck would have it however, a few weeks ago my mother-in-law had to get a rental car and the people at Enterprise gave her a 2014 Chrysler minivan. Ooh, and was she ever pretty too! I knew this was the answer to my prayers. My husband would be ever- so - gently forced into seeing the need for a van and ultimately cave. Her blue paint, her doors that slid along the rails ever so smoothly, the captain's seats that adorned the car with their faux leather smell that radiated throughout her body, the leather wrapped steering wheel that was waiting for the placement of my hands on her, the movie screen in the back that would silence little mouths for hours on end... can you say road trip baby? Even the cup holders had the ability to slide all the way to the back passengers. I. Was.In.Heaven. So when my mother-in-law (Enterprise, please plug your ears) offered us the ability to drive her for the weekend, I quickly jumped at her ever-so-gracious offer. My husband, eh, not so much.
For the few days that we "owned" this beauty, the kids were excited, I was beyond thrilled as well, and my husband? He quietly sat in the passenger's seat wishing this poor excuse for an automobile had tinted windows; limo tint at best. I on the other hand drove her with pride. I drove her like the proud minivan owner I wanted to be. But my hopes were soon dashed again when my husband and I actually started discussing how we would pay for one. I would have to go back to work, not something I was willing to do yet. He knew my idea would be squashed and I'd move on to accepting the car we have works just fine and he was victorious.
Husband - 1, Wife - a big fat 0.
My mind started to wander. I wanted and needed this car. I could work part-time. I could find a job that somehow would let me take my kids to work with me. I could even try to find employment from home. My mind was flailing all over the place trying to find a solution to how I was going park one of these in my garage. I knew the functionality of them was far greater than what I looked like and how the other non-minivan drivers perceived me. I also knew that in this stage of our life right now with young children, we desperately could benefit from the convenience of owning one. As I parked the sweet girl in the driveway of our home that day, knowing she had to go back, I played with all of her gadgets one last time. The gadgets our car didn't have. The gadgets that were worth me going back to work for, but not worth me putting my kids in daycare for. I sat rested in her comfort for the minutes that lead up to our departure. I stepped out of her gloriousness and tearfully said goodbye.
Moments later, my husband got in to take her back. I saw him get inside the van and close the door, I winced. It was then and there that I realized something. An epiphany if you will. My husband sitting behind the wheel of that minivan actually did take away his manhood, albeit all mental, it clearly changed his vibe. It changed my vibe too when I sat in it- in the opposite direction- but nonetheless I understood how a vehicle can change how you feel. So that coupled with knowing I wasn’t ready to go back to work full-time, I was finally at peace with my decision and the four-year-battle came to an end.
I opened the door, kissed him goodbye, and told him the words he'd been wanting and waiting to hear for years: “Babe, I'm good with our car.”
He didn't ask me why and I'll never tell.
*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine.