When I was 16, my first car was a hand-me-down Toyota Corolla from my oldest sister. It was a stick shift and a great first car. Sadly, a drunk driver pulled in front of me when I was 17 and it was totaled. I then had the cutest little used VW Cabrio convertible with heated leather seats. I had so much fun driving that car. But after a couple years of paying for high-priced repairs, I sadly sold it and walked into a Toyota dealer by myself to buy my very first new car, another Toyota Corolla.
That little blue “Yoda” got me back and fourth to college in Pennsylvania for four years, my first job at a radio station in Arlington, Va. for three years, moved boxes from my parents house to my first home in Bowie, carried me in my big fluffy white wedding dress home from our reception, and carried our first-born son, James, home from the hospital. The memories that are wrapped up in that little four-doors of steel are amazing. I never needed, or desired, to have any other vehicle — until we had children.
Our first vacation when James was about 10 months old was to Ocean City for a few days. It took incredible skill to pack that little car full of all the necessities that come along with toting a baby to the beach: pack ‘n play, stroller, portable high-chair, diapers, and toys, toys, toys. Plus there were the basic beach items like chairs, umbrellas, inflatable pool, buckets and blankets. We also packed two coolers full of food. I spent three hours squeezed into the backseat next to the carseat unable to move more than an inch or two while attempting to keep a fussy baby occupied. It was time to buy a bigger vehicle.
I have a confession to make here. When Justin and I were younger, whenever we were behind a slow moving or swerving minivan, we would grumble the word “minivan” (similar to the way Seinfeld would grumble “Neuman”). I had no sympathy for, or understanding of the mom or dad that was driving the large vehicle, I was just impatient and annoyed by them. So the thought of us purchasing a minivan was definitely not appealing. We searched and searched for a used SUV in our price range and had no luck. Begrudgingly we did a search for a minivan and the perfect one popped up. After ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ over the pictures online of how the back seats folded down, the bucket seats moved, the side doors closed on their own, the passenger windows were tinted and the massive amount of space that was available, we changed our tune about minivans pretty quick.
We bought our van about one month before I gave birth to our second son, Luke, and I have loved every second of owning that vehicle! I left my little Corolla to my husband and haven’t looked back — until last week when the van went into the shop for repair and we had to cram everything into the Corolla. That saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” couldn’t be more true! All week I’ve been driving around with two toddlers inches behind me, kicking the back of my seat, reaching across and hitting each-other, screaming, throwing toys and complaining about the music, the sun in their eyes and the way the car smells. And as I’ve been hauling a double-stroller in and out of the small trunk, I’ve realize just how much I’ve become a minivan Mom, and am quite proud of it!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 2-year-old James and almost 1-year-old Luke.