Let's face it, parents, that is the question.
Let's take a little trip back in time. Not sure when. Probably circa 2005. I had no ring on my finger. I had no baby on my hip. I thought like this: When I grow up I won't live in a cookie cutter subdivision. When my family is able to take a vacation we will travel to exotic, real places not just amusement parks. Sometimes I'll wear high heels to the ballpark because my short legs look better when they're slightly elongated. And I will not allow practicality to kill my coolness. I mean, I think I'm succeeding in this department. After all, I wear really thin RayBans even though my son could snap those suckers at any second.
More background: I grew up going to car shows. My father drove hand-me-down clunkers in winter so that when the salt cleared off the Wisconsin roads he could drive his Mustang in spring, summer and fall. Instead of investing our college funds in a bank (by the way, I'm so thankful my mom and dad had a college fund for me) my dad sank money in classic Thunderbirds and then sold them to send us to school. We grew up going to TBird shows. It was awesome.
My husband will tell you he's not really a car guy. That said, he's the son of one of the world's biggest car guys. My in-laws have acquired the most amazing collection of Mercedes Benz cars over the years. My father-in-law is also amazing with building things so he can find a good deal, fix it up, etc.
There's the background. Here's the current situation.
We have a 75 pound dog that likes to travel with us in a massive crate, and all of our family members live in different states than us. We hope to expand our family at some point. And right now, when we travel we are already packed to the gills. We take my crossover SUV, a Nissan Rogue, on trips because it gets better gas mileage than Andy's 1999 4Runner. We'd probably trade his in. We also currently do not have any car payments. Can I get a debt-free Hallelujah! So right now we're discussing options for a vehicle upgrade.
Sure an SUV sounds nice, but the best gas guzzlers seem incredibly overpriced, and I still feel like we'll run out of room if our kids choose to have friends or play a sport like hockey (compute: size of kid multiplied by three to get the weight and surface area of stuff you will need to transport). A minivan sounds practical. It sounds economical. It sounds spacious. These are good for a stingy woman who worries about things way too much and likes to know we're covered for decades to come.
But in the end it's not just to minivan or not to minivan. It's balancing the "what I want to be when I grow up" version in my head with reality. A huge swath of our population does not choose to drive a minivan because they want to be boring. They do it because it makes sense. Same with the cookie-cutter houses, the planned out trips, etc. etc. etc. I recently voiced these issues with my mom and with a sarcastic tone she said, "I was never going to live outside the city or drive a station wagon." The tone came because I knew she had done both. And the truth is, it made sense and she does not regret it. (Or at least not enough to tell her daughter that she does).
In the end, I realize these are first-world problems. And life is all about compromise. I still don't know what we're going to buy for our next vehicle. But I just keep hoping wedges are still in style when Jack starts taking part in extracurricular activities.