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Published January 11, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Minivan moms multiply

When I bought a minivan this past summer, I felt as though I had sold a little piece of my soul.

By: Mary Jo Hotzler, INFORUM

When I bought a minivan this past summer, I felt as though I had sold a little piece of my soul.

But can you blame me? It was June 14, and I had just become a mother to twin babies a few months earlier. On top of that, I had just returned to work full time the week prior, and I was overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and a wee bit hormonal. I was grasping at anything that could simplify this new, crazy life of mine.

The minivan seemed like such an obvious solution, even though it went against everything I stood for. Still, I took the plunge.

Sure enough, within a week of owning the baby bus, I was a believer. And soon after, I was a full-blown minivan evangelist.

Sure, I once swore I’d never own one, but as motherhood has taught me, I now do a lot of things I said I’d never do. I’m sure many parents can relate. I call these my “Minivan Moments.” I even started a blog by that name on areavoices.com to chronicle them all.

So naturally I was smiling inside last week when a fellow minivan-owning, mom-of-multiples friend sent me a link to a story in The New York Times about how minivans are making a comeback after years of being deemed lame by parents everywhere.

Or as another minivan blogger – Kristen Howertown, who is mentioned in this article – puts it: “It’s just a symbol of women becoming the invisible, exchangeable mom – the soccer mom – where we all look the same and no longer have a sense of what’s cool.”

Well said, Kristen. That’s exactly how I felt.

But Boston dealership owner Jason Tobias, who is also quoted in the article, explains that the newer, cooler minivan designs have really helped their cause recently. Well, that and good, old-fashioned practicality eventually prevails for most.

“With the new design, I think that it’s changed a lot of people’s opinions,” Tobias is quoted as saying. “So many people used to say, ‘I’ll never drive a minivan,’ and then, guess what? It’s called children.”

Right on, Mr. Tobias. Right on.

I still sort of feel like a sell-out on some level, but I just don’t care. Practicality and simplicity won out over style and status. And from the sounds of it, the minivan moms are multiplying.

I guess I sort of knew this, based on all of the funky ads and marketing campaigns by companies like Toyota, which has coined its popular Sienna minivan as the “Swagger Wagon.” The ads are an Internet sensation.

And it’s not just Toyota. It’s all of the minivan-makers. I also love that many of the companies, according to the article, are making a push to get dads driving minivans.

My husband, also known as my Minivan Man, is on board, though he was skeptical at first and did lay claim to our other car as his primary vehicle.

Still, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said to each other, “What would we do without this van?!”

At any rate, I’ve come to grips with my status as a minivan mom, and I take comfort knowing I’m not alone in this identity crisis/personal enlightenment journey.

In fact, I’m happy to say that I like owning a minivan and that it doesn’t make me invisible, exchangeable or uncool. It just makes me a parent.



Readers can reach Forum Deputy Editor Mary Jo Hotzler at (701) 241-5582.

Her blog, “Minivan Moments,” can be found at www.minivanmom.areavoices.com.

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