Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Dear Zen Mother,

We are about to have our 3rd child and our car is not big enough to hold all of us. I hate the thought of buying a minivan. Besides purchasing an SUV, can you suggest an alternative vehicle?

Lindsey from North Carolina

Dear Lindsey,

You can’t dig to China, there is no Santa Claus, Rhett Butler never comes back for Scarlet and I have no alternative to offer a growing family other than the ubiquitous, suburban, home away from home, minivan. And let me add, I feel your pain.

Several years ago, I was pregnant with my third child. It was a day I’ll never forget. After running some errands, I pulled into our driveway in my sporty, Scandinavian-made car. My husband stopped his yard work and said, “You know, three kids, two baby seats and a hockey bag will not fit in your car. We should get a minivan.” From behind the wheel, I stared at him in disbelief. Seeing the look on my face, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s no big deal, is it?” I resisted the temptation to run him over.

For the next six months I tried to figure out a way to fit all the kids, their gear, the dogs and my work stuff into the car. Since my husband was now locked in the front hall closet, I did not need to accommodate his large frame. I spent hours in the garage unbolting, moving and bolting seats. I removed the convenient storage bin, the spare tire and the glove department. I hired an engineering firm.

One afternoon, while soldering the dog crate to the ski rack, my husband came into the garage and asked me if I would like to go out for dinner. While curious as to how he cut the rope holding him upside-down in our maple tree, I decided to accept his peace offer.

I should have suspected him right away. He took me to a crowded restaurant so, you know, I wouldn’t make a scene and announced he was trading in my car for a minivan the next day. As you can imagine, I was full of questions. “How could you do this to me? After everything my car and I have been through? Is nothing sacred to you?” I could have thrown a drink in his face. I could have screamed. I could have broken the dishes, but considering my husband would be spending the night next to the compost pile, I took pity on him and acquiesced. After all, our third son was due any day.

In time, I learned to adjust. Even my fantasies adjusted. I no longer dream about Hugh Jackman singing to me. Now, I dream about Hugh Jackman singing to me while I’m driving a pale yellow, 150 horsepower, 5-speed convertible Volkswagen Beetle with 17-inch alloy wheels and anti-locking brakes.

My tale ends well. The minivan has been indispensable to our lives, and when I throw dinner scraps out the window to my husband, I let him know as well.


Anonymous said...

So glad to see you're back at Zen Mother. Having three boys myself, I've achieved full desensitization to scornful looks from the elder set, and I fully appreciate your trip to see Hansel and Gretyl. he he he.

Lynne Hendricks

The Mother said...

There is an alternative. If you can manage to birth a 16 year old, one of them can drive his own car.

Then you can have the sportscar, and your son can do all the chauffeuring.