DogWindBlowing

Poem: Ode To Our Minivan

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About Sarah

Sarah lives with her husband and three daughters outside of San Francisco. She is the author of What It Is Is Beautiful, a collection of honest poems about parenting.

I’m not sure anyone ever enters parenthood champing at the bit to own a minivan.

It’s one of those milestones that you accept with resignation more than anything else. Let’s face it: it signifies a marked decline in the sexiness of one’s life.

All that aside, we were incredibly lucky to be given a hand-me-down minivan when we discovered that we were expecting twins. It was a solid workhorse that, despite the abuse that our family of five threw its way, kept plugging on.

Seven years later, we are finally having to retire the old van. As it often goes, there’s just too much work that needs doing — maintenance that would cost more than the value of the van itself.

So in honor of its years of trusty service, I’m sharing a poem from my book that I wrote in its praise. Here’s to the unsexy, crumb-riddled gifts in our lives!

Ode To Our Minivan

We are driving you
into the ground,
and you keep taking it,
or us, really, along with our
travel mugs, orphaned socks
and cracker crumbs.

Behind your back, I admit,
we dream of our next vehicle:
privacy glass, better gas mileage,
maybe even a sunroof—
but what I wouldn’t give
just for power windows!

Your decline is clearest
when I ease you out of
snug parking spaces or
struggle to merge with cars
flying by on the
highway;

tight turns reduce you
to confused stuttering,
while a trip on the Interstate
makes you cough and lurch,
eager to please but
slow to accelerate.

You are not without your
subtle forms of protest:
one day, you up and decided
not to make cold air, except
on HIGH (and if the stars
are aligned).

So now we drive with the windows
down, the humid air in our ears,
and above us your waving flag
of loose ceiling fabric,
faithfully billowing
and flapping.

© Sarah Dunning Park, 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Comments

  1. Oh, I just wrote a post about our vehicle woes which involve our 12 year old minivan which we’ve driven for 10 of those years. I can relate! We now have a mid-sized used non-gas-guzzling car in the driveway and I couldn’t be happier. ;)

  2. who needs a mini van when you can have a suv. my durango fits all our needs and then some lol.

  3. What a lovely reflection Sarah! I just love your poems, how they capture the universal in the particular. Old cars are a challenge to appreciate. But sometimes, when I park downtown next to beautiful cars I can really appreciate little old red hatchback Hyundai’s lack of charms: I am not worried she’ll be stolen. And then when I hear cars screech around turns in our apartment’s parking lot, I think of all the trouble we had with timing belts and how every morning for years it she’d only start or turn with a loud ear-splitting scream. I appreciate her reliability and begrudgingly take the lessons she doles out with her idiosyncrasy.

  4. When you talk about getting power windows it reminds me of this old car we had a few years ago that had no power windows. At one point we had some kids in the car and this little girl kept exclaiming how cool our windows were that you could actually roll them down.

  5. Love it! I am glad we have the one-step-down from a mini-van–a sporty little wagon. We’re teetering on the edge with 2 kids. :)
    Sarah M

  6. I just sold my single-mom minivan yesterday! It’s the only vehicle I every purchased all by myself (no parents or husband to advise) and she faithfully served me well. I have always been very proud of my minivan-mama status.

    Alas, I’m recently married and my wonderful husband already possesses an SUV that will more than meet our needs with lower mileage and greater amenities. He blessed me abundantly by giving to me as my own vehicle and now I drive a TANK! Seriously, the minivan was smaller than the Expedition!

  7. We just got our first minivan after having our 3rd child five months ago. We love our (gently used) Odessey! It gets better mileage than an suv for sure, but less sexy too. I’m sure we’ll love her and use her until she’s old and tired. There’s nothing like a good car :)

  8. I guess I’m in the minority on this one, but I’ve always wanted a minivan! Like, since I was a kid (My parents REFUSED to ever own one). I was SO excited to finally get my van when hubby’s old truck finally exploded in a too-expensive sort of way last summer. LOL! I just like the idea of being able to fill the van with all our friends… both kids and adults… and be able to go somewhere all together! Yep. Weird. I know.

    • I don’t think you’re crazy – the biggest appeal of our “family car” (it’s not technically a minivan, but a “crossover” – sits higher than a minivan with seats that fold flat and no sliding doors) was that it could fit 6 people. Not like vans and cars that say they can fit 7, but can really only fit 5 1/2 because of bench seats, but REALLY 6 – even adults mixing with carseats! A few months after we bought it, we took 5 adults and one baby on a 9-hour road trip. That alone made the purchase worth it! (Nowadays, we have 2 kids, both in carseats, but it’s nice that we can still fit up to 4 adults in the car along with the kids.)

  9. That sounds like my old minivan that I would still be driving if I was not rear ended a year ago. The other driver had sweet insurance and I got my self into another sweet minivan! I love my swagger wagon!

  10. Oh I love it!

    My best friend was also gifted a hand-me-down minivan, from her parents-in-law, and it has been a godsend for them (and was great for us when we visited too :)

    Yes, here’s to all the unsexy (and crumb-riddled, sure) gifts in our lives.

  11. PS Just FYI – everytime I tried to leave this comment in Firefox, it came up with a message saying I hadn’t answered the anti-spam question correctly. Did happen here in Chrome…

    Also, there’s an extra http// at the beginning of the link to your book – so the link doesn’t work. :(

  12. Ha! Doesn’t give cold air except on high–I have the same, exact problem (and incidentally, the heat & defroster only work on high as well), and have yet to look into the problem. Sigh. Loved the poem!

  13. A wheelchair hastened my road to minivan-dom, although I suppose it was somewhat inevitable regardless. I hope some day I’m writing poetry to my van!

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