How To Make Your Peace With Becoming A Mini-Van Mom

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mom and son by minivanFive years ago, I would have ranked the odds of me driving a mini-van today slightly below the odds of the Terminator franchise happening in real life. I was sure I would drive the car I bought after college graduation until either it fell apart or I did … but it turns out that the difficulty of cramming two infant car seats into the back of an elderly Pontiac Vibe superseded my sense of identity as Cool Sporty Hatchback Driving Lady.

The first few weeks driving a mini-van were awkward, and not just because I went from driving something compact to feeling as if I were navigating an oil tanker down University Avenue. (But mostly because of that.) I’d never considered the possibility that I’d someday be a mini-van mom. What else was going to change? Would I soon finding myself selling Jamberry to my hapless friends? Making a vision board on Pinterest for Frozen-themed cupcakes? Or–please, God, no–wearing mom jeans?

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But then after a few weeks of steering the USS Goodbye To My Youth back and forth to the grocery store, library, and YMCA, something strange happened: nothing.

For starters, mom jeans were just never going to happen, because yoga pants are 900% more comfortable, but that was true before kids too. But really, however it feels at the start, getting behind the wheel of a mini-van, your mini-van, doesn’t change the kind of mom or person that you are. It’s hard to let go of a piece of your identity, whether that’s a particular haircut or a favorite pair of pants or a beloved old car. It turns out that the mini-van’s trunk is just as good at carrying my duffel bag of Frisbee cleats as it is at packing a stroller and groceries, and it turns out that I am no less myself for being able to drive my car without having to fold my knees up alongside my ears in order to fit behind the steering wheel.

It’s okay to feel weird getting into your van for the first time, or squeezing into that first pair of mom jeans. (If you sign up to sell things via multi-level marketing, go ahead and continue feeling weird about it well past the first time, though.) Having kids changes a parent’s life, but it doesn’t change who you are–mini-van or no. You were a person and an individual before someone called you ‘mom’, and you’ll still be that person afterwards too, at least as much as you want to be.

You’re still going to miss the gas mileage, though. Sorry.

(Image: Mike Watson Images / Getty)