Katie McCarthy: In consideration of the mom-mobile

January 12, 2014 

Over the holidays, I reached a new milestone.

No, I didn't run a marathon. I didn't learn to cook a gourmet meal or sew a dress or knit a sweater.

My husband and I had "the talk" -- is it time for us to buy a minivan?

It all started with our trip back to Illinois for Christmas. Given that this was our daughter's first "real" Christmas (she was a mere 2 weeks old during her actual first holiday), we knew the grandparents would max out our vehicles.

So we decided to rent a minivan, thinking this would best suit our purposes.

It did. But we didn't expect to fall in love.

Enter the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country. It looks nice from the outside, though it's definitely a minivan.

But it's the inside that will steal your heart.

Stow-away seating, ample storage space, six front-seat accessible cup holders, not to mention the leather seats, DVD player and satellite radio.

Oh, the convenience!

And, oh, the inner turmoil!

I don't think anything can prepare you for the first time you contemplate buying a minivan -- the first time you think, "Yeah, I could totally rock this mom-mobile."

We spend a good portion of our lives bemoaning this sensible vehicle as something only longed for by "soccer moms," sneering at its extensive storage capacity as excessive and unnecessary.

I was burdened with driving a minivan for a period of time while I was in high school, much to my dismay. The perks: I could fit a whole bunch of friends in the back. The drawbacks: They all made fun of my ride.

We called it the "silver bullet," because it was silver and minivans have a nose arrow-dynamically similar to a bullet. Of course.

I couldn't wait to have my own car, something "cooler" to drive around town.

"I'll never drive a minivan again!" I might have dramatically announced upon my final excursion in the frumpy mom-mobile.

If my 16-year-old self could see me now.

But the silver bullet's removable seats were clunky and had to be taken out of the vehicle. The radio was but AM/FM/cassette. No volume controls on the steering wheel. No under-seat storage.

Weighing the pros and cons of the vehicle is pretty much like talking to a high schooler.

"It's so awesome!" But it's still a minivan. Lame.

"I keep trying to find things I don't like about it," my husband said a few hundred miles into our trip.

We couldn't.

Despite the "uncool" factor, it's a practical family vehicle.

I imagine everyone struggles with decisions like this in their lives, something that seems trivial, but is somehow squarely contrary to who you think you are as a person.

Sometimes, practicality has to win -- even if it means buying a minivan.

Katie McCarthy, kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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