Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Mother Ship

Goodbye, cramped sedan. Hello, Mother Ship.

Last Saturday Dave and I became the proud owners of a minivan. Well, at least I became the proud owner of our sleek, silver Honda Odyssey. In Mommy Land, I am considered cool or in the very least practical. Dave, on the other hand, might get a few more cool points if we’d splurged on an SUV to haul our growing family from point A to point B. Poor guy actually got mocked his first time driving our new ride. Really. We’d left the dealership and Madeline and I were following behind him through a posh part of Atlanta. Apparently, he rolled up to a stoplight and some young guys, probably in their early twenties, were low-riding in a Nissan 350Z and caught Dave’s peripheral vision. He glanced over to his left and some punk (his words) eyed the minivan and gave Dave two thumbs up and a big, cheesy grin.

Priceless. Too bad the van wasn’t. These minivans aren’t cheap purchases. I’ve never been much of a car person and didn’t need to a fancy, schmancy SUV to feel more like a hip mama. But it was time for a new car – Dave’s Geo is 13 years old and my Accord is getting close to reaching the decade mark. I actually find it funny that Dave was ridiculed in a $30,000 automobile when his Geo’s black paint is fading to a matte grey and its internal knobs and even door handles sometimes end up in your hand when you try to make adjustments or attempt to open the door.

Ah, but we love the Geo. There’s more than an ounce of nostalgia infused in that jalopy of a car. It was the first car Dave ever had and it was also the car we’d loiter in after dates when our romance was just beginning. Pop (Dave’s dad) is actually going to buy the rattletrap – it has a Toyota engine and isn’t in too bad of shape for its age – so I’ll have a chance to still see the old guy every once in awhile. I also took a picture of the car for memory’s sake. Too bad I don’t have a snapshot of the Oldsmobile Dave borrowed from his parents for one of our only dates in high school. (Dave and I dated briefly as teens but didn’t become seriously involved until we were reunited the summer after we both graduated from college.) After a romantic evening out – Dave took me to see Die Hard with a Vengeance and then to the roller rink for some serious skating (I am a klutz on wheels, but I still tease him about the finesse he demonstrated under the pulsating lights while Stroke It piped through the speakers) – the Oldsmobile abruptly lost electrical power, including power steering. We fortunately were only yards away from my home and Dave used all his pubescent might to turn the boat into my 300-plus foot driveway and we were able to coast down to the turnaround. A tow truck came to pick up the car the next day. Again, poor Dave. I imagine he was pretty mortified.

But I digress…

Back to the minivan. Dave has inherited the Accord. As for me, the minivan is my primary ride. It is the Mother Ship and I love it. So does Madeline. “Ma-Ma’s new car!” she exclaims every time she sees it. She loves the “magic” doors and how they slide open with just the push of a button. The built-in sunshades keep her cool and she doesn’t ask for her sunglasses nearly as often. We have ample room to stash extra diapers and sippy cups. We decided against the fully-loaded model, so there’s no DVD player (we don’t want our kids to insist on watching DVDs every time we go somewhere and on long trips, they can read or play games like we did growing up), but the six-CD changer allows me to keep more than one kids’ CD ready for play at a time.

Today we cruised over to the Family Y belting out tunes like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “You Are My Sunshine.” As I surveyed the road like a captain of ship, sitting up high above my surroundings, I felt infinitely “cool.” Some of my friends laughed at me before we made the big purchase. They couldn’t believe my minivan lust. Now they see the Odyssey and all its perks and they appreciate, if not desire, its functionality. I told Dave I feel like “such a mom” riding around town in the minivan and going to places like the zoo or the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. He laughed, but I know he was happy to know this big investment is worth it. We’re dipping into our savings a bit and money will be tighter with a car payment, but I feel like the minivan is a perfect fit for our expanding family. Madeline likes to show people where her baby sister will be sitting once she arrives (only a few more weeks now) and I feel like my children will be safer, cocooned in an automobile with the latest safety features.

I’m sure Dave would someday like to have sports car or even a pick-up truck – something a tad more manly than a minivan, bubble-like Geo or even champagne-colored Accord. Maybe when we’re finally through with this whole residency thing he can buy a new car that suits his needs. (He’ll be finished with his first year of radiology residency in July. Yippee!)

But my excitement with our purchase isn’t really about the car itself just as Dave’s getting a new car after residency won’t be the true source of our elation. We’ll be toasting champagne because we’re finally finished with his medical training. And now I am more excited about what the minivan symbolizes: That our family is getting bigger. That I’m the mom I always wanted to be, toting around kids to various outings and to grandparents’ houses. That we will soon have another piece of precious cargo on our hands. That God has given us many, many, many blessings.

Nothing quite says “MOM,” albeit leaky, milky boobs (I’ll have them soon!) sticky hand smudges on the walls, than a Honda Odyssey adorned with carseats, kids’ CDs, wipes, stashed snacks and hand smudges on the windows. I have arrived.

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