It's official: I'm a minivan mom

Posted September 8

Erin Stewart has joined the ranks of minivan drivers and says she is pretty proud of the precious cargo inside. (Deseret Photo)

I sold my soul for sliding doors.

The conversation to buy a new car was long and grueling and involved several discussions that ended with me exclaiming, “A piece of me will die in a minivan. Is that really worth the extra cargo space?”

Let’s just say I was having trouble getting on the minivan swagger wagon.

If you would have told me 10 years ago I would be in my mid-30s with three kids living in a Utah suburb driving a minivan, I would have laughed. Or punched you in the throat. Either way, I would have said the one magic word that we all say when we are young and naïve and could never imagine a world where we could ever possibly need eight seats and limitless cup holders: NEVER.

I was never going to live in Utah. I was never going to drive a minivan. I would not be a suburban soccer mom.

Not me. Never. No way. Not. Gonna. Happen.

It happened.

I am now the reluctant owner of a minivan, and as we drove off the dealer lot this week, I couldn’t help asking myself, “How did I get here?”

That’s the problem with never: You never know where the twists and turns of life are going to take you.

My path to suburban soccer mom status was anything but direct. I wanted children and hoped to have a big family (but again, NOT a minivan — ever!). But after my first daughter was born, I went into pregnancy-related heart failure and was told I would never have more children. I gave away my maternity clothes and mourned the children I’d never have.

But when we moved to the East Coast, a doctor at Johns Hopkins helped me have my second daughter. Then, he too, said no more. I listened this time and turned to adoption.

We waited six years. Six long years of praying and wondering if my dream of more children was a fantasy. Another cross-country move brought us to Utah, and that’s where our baby found us. We adopted our missing piece this summer.

Every step of the way, life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would or should. Reality altered my best-laid plans and changed my dreams, helping me realize that getting my children here is all that mattered. And just like that, the thought of being a mom driving a minivan in Utah suburbia sounded like a blessing rather than a curse.

And even though I may look like every other minivan momma in the kiss-and-ride line, my path to get here was anything but cliché. My story is like every mother’s story: unique and heartbreaking and filled with twists and turns that land us exactly where we need to be.

All the woulds and shoulds and nevers we invent for ourselves fall to the curb and all that’s left is the life we actually lead. And it’s that story that makes us unique, not the cars we drive.

So as I sit in the driver’s seat of my new minivan, I ask myself again, “How did I get here?”

The answer is clear: I got here because I’ve never really been in the driver’s seat at all.

Because now when I look into the backseats, here’s what I see: A book covering the face of a 9-year-old whose birth I should not have survived, the smile of a 6-year-old that doctors told me I should never have and a newborn baby born to another mother who somehow found his way to our family.

So while I may not be bursting with pride over my new ride, I am pretty proud of the blessings that fill my rearview mirror. When I look at them, I can’t help but be perfectly happy in the minivan I swore I’d never own and eternally grateful that life doesn’t turn out the way I think it should.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her and her newborn son wins hearts with his dimples.


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