The Minivan Driver Doth Protest Too Much

Sooner or later a modern mother living in the suburbs will have to confront a transportation problem.  Whether she has 1 or 2 children and wants to carpool, or has 3 or more children, she will need a car that can accommodate all those little bodies, not to mention car seats. Since this change requires a substantial increase in car size, the transportation transition can be, well, alarming. Driving something the size of a small school bus, a mother may no longer feel spontaneous and mobile, ready to zip off to Burning Man at a moment’s notice. Understandably so.

And yet, there are a few among us who become enamored of their motoring behemoths. And none so vocal as the minivan evangelists. (Shall we call them minvangelists?) The minivangelist proclaims the minivan’s virtues with a fervor typically reserved for cleanse diets, dermatological products, and Mini Boden.  It’s so much easier to get everyone loaded up! No seats to tilt, no one has to climb over! ….The automatic doors are amazing! …When it’s raining, I can just roam around inside the car, buckling everyone up!

These claims are unassailably true, but they don’t negate the fact that the minivan is pretty much the vehicular equivalent of wearing sweats every day. (So convenient! no zippers or buttons required!) So it's really no surprise that the minivan remains the butt of countless jokes about parenthood, a symbol of middle-age, an icon of suburban compromise.

All of which leads this minivan-driving mother to wonder if the minivangelists doth protest too much. By extolling the minivan’s virtues so insistently, might they lose some credibility? Might they be compensating for their own ambiguous feelings about their vehicle of choice? We probably don't need to re-read Hamlet to answer that one.

Perhaps “minivaneglism” is just one of the stages one must go through on the road of large-car motherhood. It comes after denial: We can totally squeeze 3 car seats across the back of the Prius. Thankfully, the end stage must be one of acceptance, as in, yes, I might be driving a minivan covered in stickers and snack crumbs, but I am totally and completely comfortable with who I am. With such self-confidence, who’s to say modern mothers can’t do more than just drive the minivan? Perhaps she can even rock the minivan. (Hat tip to Sarah Maizes.) Only, she'll know she's the one who is fabulous, not the minivan.

* photo from, and minivan T-shirts available on

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