Julie Fishman is the cohost of First Timers, a podcast about blowouts, belly laughs, and all the other "firsts" in parenthood. She's a mom to two girls, one dog, and a bevy of Barbies that her threenager has demanded she also parent.
Dearest Odyssey Minivan,
You're the car I always never wanted: the antithesis of stylish, the opposite of sleek, the granny panties of cars. All function and almost zero form. But like most great love stories, timing is everything. And the time for our romance is now.
Odyssey is the appropriate name for a mom-mobile. Every day of parenting is like an epic journey that often feels 10 years long. You help make the pilgrimage to my personal Troy — the couch — just a pinch less painful.
So thank you, minivan, for your generous trunk. With a diapering station and full-size potty, you're a veritable outhouse on wheels. You don't complain. Or maybe you do, but I can't hear it above the Raffi blasting from your surprisingly good sound system.
Thank you, minivan, for your doors that glide open at the push of a button. When I'm loaded up like a packhorse, carrying an infant, dragging a toddler, and holding a lunchbox filled with tchotchkes my threenager "needs" in my teeth, I thank my lucky stars for that button.
Thank you, minivan, for your low-to-the-ground stature. I can now scream, "Get in yourself!," confidently at all children above 30 inches tall. Would you be OK with me putting a "You must be under this height to be picked up" sticker on your door? Your inside is like an amusement park, so why not make the outside match?
Speaking of the inside, thanks for your spacious interior. It leaves ample room for the toys and snacks that seem to fall off my children like leaves from a shaken tree. And the shop vac! Oh how I love your built-in vacuum. It eats Annie's organic snack bunnies and never whines that they're honey graham, not chocolate.
Thank you for your DVD player. Perhaps someday we will be permitted to change the disk so you can enjoy something other than the same four episodes of Curious George. Until then, let's all just be thankful it's not Thomas and Friends. I'd sooner drive you directly into the fiery pits of hell than visit Sodor every day.
Thank you for your driver's seat arm rests. Even though I can only use one at a time, my off-arm always appreciates the support. My appendages are so tired that even gravity often feels like a nemesis.
Thank you, minivan, for the ability to have separate audio for the front and back. When our toddler deems the wireless headset "scratchy" no longer, we'll be able to use this feature. For now, the mere fantasy of Terry Gross in the front and The Man with the Yellow Hat in the back is enough.
Thank you for the many seat configurations you offer. Who knew that loading a car for a road trip could be like a sliding tile puzzle? Who knew that loading a car for a road trip would be the most fun part of the road trip? Note to self: Los Angeles to San Francisco is way too far.
Lastly, thank you for taking that hit from the preschool parking lot gate like a champ. I never saw the stationary piece coming despite it being there every single day. Can I blame it on the screaming infant? Or is 4 months old too young for fault? Let's blame it on the infant. Regardless, you are dented but not ravished. Our relationship was never about looks anyway.
If you are the granny panties of cars, then I'm the granny panties of moms. It's a title I'll happily take over the thong of moms. She may look sexy, but there's nothing sexy about a UTI.
Van Captain and Chief of Bribery