This one is so embarrassing that I almost didn't post it. I warned you that this month wasn't going to be all sweet and poignant, so I'll just jump in with a blush and both feet and say it--I'm grateful for my minivan.
Like many of you, I swore I'd never do it, but its appeal and convenience couldn't be denied. We've had a minivan with all the bells and whistles for a year and a half, and it already has 25,000 miles on it. It's like my second home. I spend 45 minutes in the car each morning, just getting the kids to school. And I have to pick them up too! After school, we shuttle up and down the road to afterschool activities, very few of which are closer than 20 minutes from our house. While I'm waiting for the next pick-up or appointment, or while the kids are at gymnastics or piano lessons, I often can be found in the minivan--seat pushed back, windows cracked open, book in hand.
I only have two kids, but the third row of seats means we have room for carpooling. More importantly, each kid gets a row, reducing arguments and excessive touching. My son seems to think the third row is his second home as well; it's usually filled with shirts, books, magazines, and Bionicles. I make him clean out regularly, but it's hard to keep up with him.
The media options are lifesavers. We listen to audiobooks, the kids watch DVDs when we take road trips, and my daughter deejays from the backseat by shouting iPod requests. When I am permitted, I always play music from either the satellite radio or the iPod that lives in the glove compartment.
To appreciate the amount of time I spend in my minivan and the convenience of it, it might help to provide an inventory of items that can be found there at this moment:
folding chairs (2)
reusable grocery bags (many)
pen and paper
lotion, Aquaphor and lip balm
contact solution (for after my car naps)
iPhone car charger
audiobook from the library
books (7; 2 are mine)
rag for spills
maps (because I like to see the whole trip, not just use the GPS)
Lego creations (who knows)
water bottles (2-4 at any given time)
empty snack containers
wireless headphones (2)
extra booster seats (2)
That doesn't even account for the items that come in and out all day, like backpacks, lunchboxes, snack bags and coffee mugs, clothing changes, and store returns.
So there you have it. I am a stereotype, but a stereotype who is grateful for the luxury and convenience of my suburban home on wheels.