My Minivan Meltdown

My husband was out of town for business this last week, as is the case sort of frequently. I usually hold my own alright. I used to actually enjoy that time because of all the “me” time I got after Kendall went to bed. I would take advantage of those weeks, plug myself in front of my computer or sewing machine and get writing or crafts done before going to bed around midnight. Not these days. As this pregnancy has progressed (and Kendall ventures further into the Terrorist Twos) the weeks of single-momming-it have become more and more of a challenge.

I’ll admit, this last week I was irrationally annoyed with my husband for even having to leave. Sure, it’s his job. Sure, we need his job to pay bills. Sure, there’s no way around it. Didn’t matter. I still wanted to kick him in the teeth when he called to complain to me that he had to “go to another social” that night, and he was “probably going to *have* to drink some beer,” which meant he’d be “really tired the next day.” This came after I finally wrestled Kendall into his pajamas and got him to go to sleep. It came after a day of non-stop tantrums, turning to jelly in parking lots, whining, dishes and more dirty dishes, too many episodes of The Fresh Beat Band, two epic diaper change battles, sciatic pain, exhaustion, a botched nap. It came at the end of a day when I would have LOVED to be forced to go somewhere and drink beer and make small talk with other adults. He got no sympathy from me.

It was a very trying week.

My mood wasn’t that fantastic when we picked him up at that airport, and I’ll give him some credit for trying. He knew I was at the end of my rope, he knew I was exhausted. He promised to take over, to let me sleep in this weekend, to work on all the projects that are stacking up. He meant well. Things were starting to look up… until he casually mentioned how “nice” his rental car, a Chrysler Town & Country Minivan, was.

“I know you’re anti-minvan, but you should really test drive one, Jill. They are really roomy. We could fit so much in there! There would be a lot of room for the kids. I mean, I know it’s not “cool,” I did kind of feel weird driving it, it’s not sexy, but it’s convenient.”

I laughed him off.

“No, I’m serious. I really think you should give it some thought. Don’t diss it before you drive it.”

Was he seriously serious???

1. We don’t need a new car right now. My Jeep Grand Cherokee holds 2 carseats just fine, and we just paid that thing off. I am NOT replacing it. Plus, I love it.

2. So *he* felt weird driving it, but it won’t matter because it will be MY car, right? Because nothing in this scenario requires him to give up his flashy car and drive a minivan on a daily basis.

Bull. Shit.

“No. Absolutely not. We don’t need one, I don’t need to test drive one. I don’t even know why you are bringing this up. It’s crap. I love my car, why should I have to give it up? You get no say in this. It’s not like you would actually drive it anyway.”

“I would too drive it.”

“To work? No, because that would defeat the purpose. I would be stuck driving it 99.9% of the time because I am the one with the kids 99.9% of the time, therefore making it MY car, and MY choice. No.”

I’m going to stop here and make something clear. I am NOT trying to take a jab at or make fun of those of you who drive minivans. I get that a lot of people LOVE them. I get that they have a lot of perks. I will concede that MAYBE at some point in the future I just MIGHT have to consider one, which I type with a heavy sigh. I get that.

This argument began to be about so much more than a minivan.

Then he said, “I don’t get why you are so opposed to the idea. It’s so practical.”

He had no idea the beast in me he just unleashed, the beast I’d been trying to tame all week long, the beast who wanted to go all Praying Mantis on his ass and rip his head off.

“PRACTICAL??? Practical?! Can NOTHING about my life NOT be practical? I don’t get haircuts more than a few times a year in an effort to be practical. I color my grey hairs at home with a $7 box of dye to be practical. I don’t wear cute clothes from Ann Taylor Loft anymore because they aren’t practical. I cut coupons, look for great sales on kid’s clothes, stalk consignment sales for the baby’s stuff, wash cloth diapers and cloth washcloths and make our own kitchen cleaner because I am practical like that. I make sacrifices in favor of the practical every day for this family. You will NOT make me give up my car because it is not PRACTICAL!”

Then I started rambling on about “the nerve” and “must be NICE to go on business trips and drink and have dinner with adults and sleep without dogs in your bed and not have to DO DISHES FOR A WEEK.” And then I cried… because I’m pregnant and hormonal.

Poor guy. He was so confused.

With just the simple, and seemingly innocent mention of test driving a minivan, he sparked a firestorm in me that was smoldering all week, one that called into question my identity and autonomy, one that really didn’t have much to do with him at all. He just stared straight ahead, baffled, and drove us home, clearly taken aback by my acute reaction.

I got over it. I apologized for my hormonal outburst, for taking out my frustrations on him for something he has no control over (being gone for work), but I stood my ground on the minivan. No way, no how…. at least for now.

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  1. With a 3rd kid on the way, we’d be staring a minivan in the face if we hadn’t bought our 7 passenger Ford Freestyle a few years ago. I totally do not see the point of minivans when 7 passenger SUVs exist – especially the new Fords, they are goddamn sexy and do everything but cook you eggs). But if we DID end up in Mini-Van hell, we’d both be in it because we’re a one-car family (he takes the train to work.) It might happen to us one day, but like you, I absolutely refuse to have my identity assassinated in that way. I’m already unrecognizable to my childfree friends.

  2. I’m with you on the “practical” bit. I so, SO wish I didn’t have to sell my Prius and get a minivan; hell, I’m not even happy that DH sold MY car and bought a Prius while promising me the Infiniti which he then changed his mind on almost immediately.
    A 7-passenger SUV is just not an option for us though. Cost, gas mileage, 3 RF carseats, maneuverability in a town with tiny parking spaces…. If I wanted a car payment I’d get a Mazda 5, but I can get a MV in similar age and condition for what I’ll get for the Prius. It’s sad, but it’s “practical” because it means I can keep my nanny job when the family has another baby this month.

    Eff practical. :-/

  3. 2 good friends from high school ended up married and now have 4 kids (and a foster toddler). When the time came (a couple kids ago) to upgrade from a 4 door compact to something that holds their elventy million kids- HE wanted a mini van. in fact- he had wanted one since high school!! “I cant wait for have a bunch of kids and get a mini van!” we all told him he was a dumb ass. in fact- we still do. his wife said “no way, jose!” to the MV and ended up with a suburban. they still got a mini van- he drives it. and loves it.

    my BFF got one too- and loves it. DVD players, auto doors, the whole 9.

    you know what I say to a MV? F THAT! im a no-go on the swagger wagon… ill take my 4 door chevy truck and its crap gas mileage. thanks.

  4. do not give into the Minivan hype. I did not – I have 3 kids, age 8,4 and 3.

    When the oldest was 1 i went on a roadtrip w/another mom and the boys. We took her minivan as she was SURE it would convert me from an SUV to a minivan. Nope. I thought it was HARDER to get the infant seat in and out. Is it nice the door is on a remote? Yes. That is the ONLY feature her van has that mine doesn’t, and mine has actual cargo room in the back behind the 3rd row.

    Stick to your guns! I’ve been driving SUVs for 8 years now. We did test drive the Sienna also, because everyone insisted they are so awesome. No, not impressed – my SUV has all the features without sacrificing my own style.

  5. I completely agree with you on the minivan. Though I’ll admit that the Toyota Sienna is coolER than originally suspected, I just can’t do it. At least not until I’m forced too.

    For now, we’re planning on buying a GMC Acadia b/c of the 3rd row seating (and b/c I’m totally in love with it.) It’s perfect for 2 or (eventually) 3 kids and it’s NOT a minivan. That’s actually it’s best feature 😉

  6. I also agree with you. A vehicle is a very individual choice.

    My husband always wanted a minivan and finally got one a few years ago. We affectionately called it the “rolling turd.” When we traded, he got another one and loves driving it.

    I keep my sedan which keeps us both happy. Yes, I use the van a couple times a month for longer trips as it has built-in DVD and it gives the kids more room, but then I go right back to my sedan.

  7. I honestly don’t think you owed him an apology – unless you called him a name or something.

    You let him know you were upset. He pushed you when you were at the end of the rope. He didn’t listen to you the first few times you said no. Quite frankly, I think he owes you an apology for starting an argument.

    And finally, what in the hell is practical about taking on another big expense like a car payment?

    This is not about hormones. This is about you being forced to handle more than you should (in a fair world.) Parenting a toddler is DRAINING. You need some way to recharge when your husband is gone on travel.

    Hang in there.

    I think you also really need help.

    • He was referring to the future, like when we have a third child. Luckily, I think we’re both on the same page about not wanting any new car payments right now.

    • “Quite frankly, I think he owes you an apology for starting an argument.”

      “in a fair world”….LIFE is not fair, lol

      Damn, some of you women on here sure like to complain. A LOT. My interest was originally piqued by a link to your pica blog from a natural mom friend….but I have spent at least 45 min just poring over the endless amount of blogs ranting about how annoying it is to be the mom of a 2 year old while pregnant in disbelief, and now *gasp* the idea of having to drive a minivan. I’m curious why one would have children if you find them to be so very annoying/’draining’ and a time suck? Were you unaware of the challenges of motherhood going into this job? And if being pregnant while running after a toddler is too much work, why choose that fate for yourself? Geez, it must be HORRIBLE not to be able to shop at Ann Taylor loft. The next time your life seems so tough though, just imagine how many countless mothers out there do everything you’re doing(natural child rearing, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, extended BFing, thoughtfully educating)ALONE, and often while in school full time living off of scholarship funds and student loans, or while working full time because there is no other parent in the picture to pay the bills….not by choice, not because they did anything wrong to deserve the stigma of being a single parent….but just because that’s the way things ended up working out. And yet, we manage to get by without ‘venting’ every inch of the way….life goes on. From where I am sitting your existance seems pretty damn awesome. Maybe posting more about how wonderful the amazing son the two of you created is; and how he has enriched your life in endless ways instead of just mentioning the challenges he’s provided, would be a fun change of pace? Of course, this is YOUR blog. And as such you write it the way you see fit. I’m only offering the suggestion that you take time to stop and ‘smell the roses’ that is a loving, two parent household. One in which you are free to stay home with your son all day and watch him grow while also not worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. You have so much to be thankful for.

      • People vent, that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they got. Her post is all about the hormonal difficulties that surround a pregnancy and how that plays out with trying to work, manage a toddler, and feeling a bit left out of the social life right now. Take a step out of your own situation and see hers for what it is, a temporary moment in time where she has feelings and has shared them.

        Just because I love my kids, and love my 15 passenger an, doesn’t mean I couldn’t sometimes want that Neon(yes its a silly dream car) and to be able to do fun things I want to do with out a kid,or 8, in tow.

        Sit back and relax instead of belitle. 😉 I think Jill is doing a good job.

        Forgive the spell errors, I cant really go back and reread anything on iPhone.

      • We all feel this way at times whether we say it out loud or keep it inside. That doesn’t mean we don’t love and appreciate our children, our spouse, or our life. A blog is a way to vent for many people. I don’t choose to vent too much on my blog, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking this exact same thing! I have 3 kids and I totally get where she’s coming from! You said you are pregnant? Do you have any kids already or is this your first one? It sounds like this is your first, so if it is, you really don’t understand what it’s like having kids. Even the most upbeat, happy non commplaining mom has these thoughts. I guarantee it!

        • I am not pregnant. I am a full time student and single parent (I became one when my child’s father decided being a parent was maybe too much for him to handle when I was 8 mos pregnant, though we had been together for almost 3 years at this point, and our son was a planned baby) to a 20 month old ‘high need’ toddler who was breastfed until 16 mos. I definitely do not have the most challenging situation ever, because at least I can say that we do have a roof over our heads, very healthy food to eat, and though everything my son owns is second hand and the only outings I am able to take him to are free ones, we get by. We have everything we need, and my son is very happy, well adjusted, and extremely bright. I was only pointing out that some moms would give anything in the world to be a SAHM but for whatever reason are simply unable to do so. It is a wonderful privilege worth being thankful for.

  8. I get it. Ugh, I so get where you are coming from and can see myself having that same kind of reaction (and I’m not even pregnant). Matt purchased a big black Suburban because of all the room it has. He loves it and says he loves driving it.
    Yet, he doesn’t drive it, he takes my cute little Honda to work every day and I feel like I’m driving a damn monster truck that I can barely squeeze into parking spaces and that I think is just ugly as shit !!

  9. Charlotte@mommyhoodmayhem on

    I totally want a minivan- I’m practical like that. Uncool I know, but so is having stretchmarks and bags under my eyes. The Hubs is sure it would be a one way ticket to giving up his man card. … we’ll see who wins! 🙂

    Its hard to be a single mommy! My husband travels frequently too. I HATE to hear his complaints about his day. I’m like, “Seriously, you left the house, interacted with adults, and didn’t get peed on. I don’t want to hear it.” Or how about the complaints about the hotel room?? What I wouldn’t give for one night of toddler free sleep in a hotel!

  10. I totally get it. We replaced my car last month, and seriously everyone was telling me to get a van. My bff got a town and country and loves it, but it’s just not for me. I ended up going with the Traverse and loooove it. Granted, it’s huge and in some ways similar to a van, but it’s not one. There’s many things I love doing as a mom, but getting a mini-van is not one of them.

  11. Jumping in here–is there really such a thing as “too many” Fresh Beat Band episodes?!?!? As a teacher, I NEVER thought I would specifically put a particular television show for my child at this age (15 months–and we’ve been watching the Fresh Beat Band for a few months now!), but once I saw the hold the show put on my child, I was sold–& on a side note, as cheezy as I find the show, I CONSTANTLY find myself singing songs from the show!

    Sorry to interrupt the minivan discussion, but I find the “Fresh Beat Band” dilemma a much more interesting one! (At least until we are pregnant with #2 & the minivan topic comes up 😉

  12. ah minivans. my husband refuses to get one. and I don’t think I would really want one either. unless it was pimped out. we have 2 babes in carseats and just bought an SUV. love it.


    Mama B

  13. I can honestly say that the minivan question will be a serious consideration in the ‘should we have a third kid conversation’ (although that convo is far off since we only have one at this point…but I digress). My in-laws all drive ridiculously fancy Chrysler minivans and love them and all their fancy features. But no. No, no, no. I want my semi-rugged mid-sized SUV and I will not give that up. Plus, where in a big-ass van do you store your dogs? In the handy under-the-seat-storage-bins? Like I said. Nope.

    And dude…I would have done the exact same thing and probably not apologized. You are impressively grown up 🙂

  14. I get it. I love my Murano and I’m SO not looking forward to having a third child (which is a while off, thank GOD) because I know I’ll be switching to a minivan.

    I think your husband was being a little callous; I know that he doesn’t understand everything you go through day to day, but the least he could do is put himself in your shoes. However, I have issues with my husband about that too. It may just be a man thing…

  15. Amen Sister!
    I completely understand. With this LO due in 4 weeks I had to get a new car. Hubby suggested a minivan and got an ass chewing like no ones business. I now am the owner of a Nissan Armada. I love when they suggest things to be practical but in reality they are saying “It won’t effect me so you really need to do it.” makes me want to scream! Oh and my husband will never complain about his business trips after the major ass chewing he got from me when I was 3 months pregnant with my head buried in the toilet while he was out drinking and having a good time. I know exactly where you are coming from!

  16. My husband knows my feeling about mini-vans, and he’s known them since I was about 16 years old. Never. Ever. Ever. I feel ya.

    Oh and I laughed at your Fresh Beat Band comment because my 2yo son is obsessed with it at the moment as well. He thinks he is Twist and walks around with a toy microphone and my husbands XBox headphones on pretending to beat box. Hilarious.

  17. KristinaYellow on

    I think it must be a man thing–my husband went to LasVegas and then Indianapolis to attend some “fun” conventions while I flew across the country with our toddler to stay with his sister in a house with 2 other young children and 2 bedrooms. It was insane. And I have MS and was in the middle of a relapse. And my little one was awake pretty much every night (she doesn’t handle change well and it always takes a few days for her to settle in before she gets back to her normal sleep). And he’s calling me to complain that he was tired from being up late at the parties? For almost 2 weeks being family free–partying it up–no worries or responsibilities. I would KILL! Um, kiss my tush baby! I can’t believe you apologized…I mean, I think he should have apologized too at the very least, esp when he just didn’t back off. Sigh. Maybe that’s why I’m in counseling with my hubby though.

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