I’m not upset about turning 40; I’m upset about getting a minivan.
My age will change in a few weeks. I’ll leave the insane decade of my 30s–had two kids, had horrible divorce, had bizarre experience dating and moving back in with my parents and said two kids, met love of my life, got married, had two more kids–and move into the unknown terrain of the 40s.
I know many, many people who attempt to fight their age. Their weapons range from Botox and tummy tucks to workout regimens that would make fitness gurus gasp to clothing that would be more appropriate in the hallway of a high school and the boob job to accompany it. I admire their efforts, but the fact is, it’s a fight that we’re all bound to lose in the end.
I’m happy to be aging. It definitely beats the alternative. I saw the movie “This is 40” and thought it was a bleak piece of crap. My life, on the other hand, isn’t: I have a wonderful family, an amazing husband, great friends, and a wonderful community. I’m truly happy with what I have, and hope to live to a ripe old age to enjoy it all. Life has as much possibilities as you allow it to have, no matter what age you are.
But for some reason, the imminent specter of the minivan is what makes me want to throw up. My response is even more idiotic and, let’s face it, immature, since the minivan is basically inevitable at this point. Unless, of course, any of you have any bright ideas for a vehicle smaller than a school bus that can accommodate three car seats in a row–two rear-facing–as well as fit in two seats for older boys, room for friends and playdates and cargo space. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
In my suburb, I barely know any families that don’t have a minivan–and that’s even if they “only” have two kids. People sing its praises to me, expressing wonder over the self-closing doors, the gas mileage, the sheer convenience. Every time I look at the Odyssey and Sienna-filled carpool line, I think, “Jordana? GET OVER YOURSELF.”
But all those people telling me how much they love minivans? I really can’t believe that in an alternate universe in which they didn’t have kids, they’d look at a range of cars and think, “Sportscar, no…mini, no…but WAIT! WHAT IS THAT SEXY BEAST OF A CAR? A ‘minivan’, you say? I’LL TAKE IT!!!” Even the word “minivan” seems waterlogged, dull and drab, sort of like “long underwear” or “mouthguard.” One friend told me that the day she bought her minivan, she cried. I get it.
Here’s the thing: I don’t need a “sexy beast” of a car. I’m not trying to pick up anyone…other than those kids in the carpool line, that is. I’m happy with my husband, and with soon-to-be five kids, I’m officially what has been deemed by my mother as a “hard sell.” What’s more, I’m not trying to telegraph a sense of my self-worth through the car I drive. At least, I don’t think I am.
But what keeps giving me pause is just how much “minivan” inextricably says things like “mom,” “chauffeur,” “chaperone,” and “shopping list.” And sometimes, when I get in my car and drive away for a few minutes (usually to do something really exciting like pick up a few pizzas or my order from the kosher butcher, but sometimes elsewhere), I like to get away from all that, even if only for a few seconds.
In anything but a minivan, I can somehow still imagine, as I drive on the highway or get stuck in crosstown traffic, that I’m that kernel of self that’s buried far, far beneath all the “Mom” stuff. I like to be able to occasionally think of myself as pretty, and young, and fun–not just the enforcer of bedtime, the burper of babies, the picker-upper of stray, smelly socks, the checker of homework, the changer of diapers.
Somewhere underneath all this Mom stuff, I’m still me.
And when I lose myself in reverie at a red light and then it changes, I don’t want the random guy behind me to honk and yell, “Move it, Mommy!”