On Saturday Robbie and I left Mum with the boys while we went shopping for a minivan. Yep we sure did. The sweatpants of cars is in our garage as I write this.
We’re doin’ it for the kids. And say what you like. That we gave up – that we don’t care anymore. I’d probably say the same about you if the tables were turned. Up until a few years ago, there was no way I was ever going to live in the suburbs – you can be assured there was no way I was ever going to drive a minivan. But this thing is awesome. It’s like a tour bus. Actually, I’m going to start referring to it as The Tour Bus. It has an entertainment system for the kids and a cool box to keep drinks cold, and a bunch of screens that do different things that I haven’t worked out yet and cameras all over the place so I don’t drift into other lanes or crash when I’m trying to parallel park.
I have to say too, that minivans have come a long way. This one could almost pass as an SUV from some angles. The difference is we can actually fit a family of five into this car. Plus some friends. There’ll be no tying grandma to the roof on road-trips for this family.
You’re not going to see our family represented by stick figures on the back window and I’m not about to buy a “baby on board” sign. Yes, we have an enormous family – that’s implied when you are driving a eight seat people mover. We are literally days away from being parents of three boys. As far as selling out to the suburban dream, owning a minivan is the least of our problems.
Since I fell pregnant this time around, I’ve been thinking of the stages of our lives in terms of allotments of time. Like, we just need to get through the toddler years and then we can get back to living our ‘normal’ lives. But lately I’ve been contemplating that whole theory and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re going to have to figure out a way to be our best selves as individuals during every stage of the boys’ lives. Because raising these boys is going to be our first priority for the next 20 years – there’s never going to be an easier time to relocate to Europe or write a novel or help save the orangutans.
I’m not talking about being selfish and pursuing our personal goals with reckless abandon and I’m not suggesting that the boys will ever take second place. I’m talking about focusing on staying true to us as individuals while we do this parenting thing. I know that I look up to my mother and father for their accomplishment as individuals, not the sacrifices they made as parents. Not that I don’t wholeheartedly appreciate every one of their sacrifices. And Robbie and I will make every sacrifice necessary for our children the same as every parent does. But some people seem to give up on their own dreams when they have kids because they think that’s what makes them good parents. Or worse, they think that’s what makes them look like good parents.
Lately I’ve been conscious of how important it is that Robbie and I hold onto our identities as people – for ourselves and each other, but also for our boys to look up to. Because two toddlers deep into this parenting gig I started to notice that the big things we wanted to achieve in life kind of fell off the horizon. It’s hard to find energy for anything else when you are raising babies and toddlers. We talk in terms of a “temporary lifestyle change”, like it’s going to be so much easier to get back to ourselves in two, five, ten years.
But it won’t. Our lives will never be the same as they were when we were free agents. But if we are going to do any of the really big things we’ve been dreaming about before kids, we are going to have to work at it. With three little kids. We are going to have to double fist this parenting gig with our personal life goals. And if that means making our lives less complicated in some areas (like family transportation) and more complicated in others (our careers), so be it.
It’s going to take late nights. It’s going to take creativity when planning travel and entertainment. It’s going to take The Tour Bus.