I didn’t want to get a minivan. I liked my Geo Prizm. I had two little guys buckled snugly in the back seat and I was comfortable in my small car. But our family was growing. I was eight months pregnant and we needed a bigger car. As much as I wanted to keep things as they were, three car seats would not fit in the back seat of my sporty Prizm.
The van joined our family about two weeks before our next son was born and that was the beginning of an epic era. I joined the parade of moms in minivans, traveling our streets and moving our children through their days — first preschool, then kindergarten, grade school, parks, grocery stores, the mall. A few years later, another baby boy arrived, but there was plenty of room! Our bigger boys happily shifted their seats for the baby.
For years, our van was filled with the things our young children loved: little cars and toys, plastic play phones, books, markers, and papers. Each boy decorated his area with stickers, some from cashiers for being good, some from the doctor for being brave, others from school or party bags, with each sticker marking time. And I drove our boys with a mother’s pride. Oh, to look back in the mirror and see four little faces doing their little boy things!
Then middle schoolers became high schoolers and growth spurts meant more trips to the grocery store. The back was filled with sports equipment as we headed to practices and games. The van had a new purpose and I was a willing driver.
My husband and I watched our children grow, but in many ways we were suspended in time and the van was our constant. In this bubble, we traveled together, always as a group of six, to visit grandparents, go on vacation, or simply go out for a family dinner. Days upon weeks upon years.
Then, in a blink, we were loading up the van to take our oldest son to college. Six of us drove him to college and five of us came home, happy for him but a little sad, too. And while it was the beginning of something new, we held onto the van. It was in pretty good shape and we still needed it, we reasoned. In another blink, our next son was off to a different college, and this time, there were only five of us to help with the move. Yes, we were beginning to see a change.
After 16 years, the van was showing its age. The windows weren’t working as well, the horn was harder to beep, and the directional signal blinked weakly. As we faced the inevitable, I felt a twist of anxiety. The van had kept our family together. What would happen now? But the fact was that our boys were becoming adults, with their own paths to travel. And while our lives will always be connected, we were all facing new directions.
I drive a new and smaller car now. And after accepting the change, I made a happy discovery. The connection to our children, minus the van, is just as strong. Perhaps that faulty directional signal was telling us something — that it was time to let go and get a new car, one that would drive us confidently down new roads.
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