Top 5 ways to make your minivan stand out

Since it has been about 1,000 degrees here in good old Northern California, the kids and I decided ice cream was the only thing we could do to survive.

We got our cones and hopped back in the van. Before I turned on the AC and jetted on our way, there were several tasty drips needing my full attention.

Suddenly the side door of the van was opened and there stood a very frazzled looking mom with two fussing toddlers. It took her about five awkward seconds, shoving one such toddler actually into the van, before she realized she had the wrong van.

We all laughed.

The mom lugged her precious little ones down two grey vans over and continued on her way.

It is bad enough we all have the same black yoga pants and some version of the same black bathing suit; do we have to have an official vehicle as well?

Apparently, grey minivan it is.

Side note: Whoever is deciding the mom trends, can we do something cool next time? Please. You are killing me here.

vanSo I decided to write to you, my fellow moms, in an act of pity. I see you winding through the Costco parking lot clicking your alarm button as you desperately try to find the right grey van before your gaggle of tired children and your year’s supply of turnips spoil.

Never fear, Super Mom is here! (At least that is what my kids call me when I tell them to.)

Here are my top 5 creative, simple and budget friendly ways to stand out from the mom pack.

1. Stickers and balloons

For some reason stores think your children are dying for stickers and balloons. Both are useless and forgotten in five seconds. That is unless the balloon floats away and then we will mourn the loss of “balloony” for about a year. Maybe longer, depending on the age and stubbornness (I mean sensitivity) of your child. If the balloon survives, hang its limp dead form from the coat hanger/handle things in the back. They can then smack against the window as you drive providing a beautiful rhythmic sound to soothe your children to sleep.

As for the stickers, don’t throw any away. Ever! These can be used to create a very unique look to your van. You could let your child decorate just the inside windows. Make sure the stickers are varying sizes and shapes. It creates a beautiful pattern of shadows on the tinted windows that will be admired by all. But don’t stop there! Let them plaster those suckers all over the outside as well. The rain will start, maybe not if you live in California, and as they peel away it will make your van an eye sore/eye catcher for sure.

2. Don’t forget the stick family

You may have noticed most grey vans include the stick family in the back left window and you may be tempted to not have one. You might think that alone will make you stand out. It won’t. You can’t. It’s required. So you have to do it. It’s a mom thing.

You do however have options. Exaggerating the number of pets/people is one way to go. Cats all along the back, maybe several rows of cats, could work. There is also Star Wars, zombies and Disney! I personally recommend these: “We’re a hoot” and the family is all owls. “Just chillin’” and the family is all penguins. “Bear with us” and the family is all bears. Adorable.

Of course, you can go the “I’m so cool that I totally make fun of stick family figures” route. There are many such options for you. Such as “How stick figure families are made” (with a nice little humping graphic), “My stick family was abducted,” “Nobody cares about your stick family,” “Run you stick bastards” (dinosaur and monster truck version) and “The Ass Family” (Jack, Smart, Lazy, Kiss and Dumb).

This is a great chance to let the personality of your family shine through and brighten up your dull, grey van of boredom. Also, it’s required. So get it done and don’t argue with me or I’ll pull this van over.

3. Dangling mirror things

If you think the front of the van doesn’t matter, your wrong. So very wrong. Why are you always doing things wrong? What is wrong with you? The front totally matters because sometimes you walk down the row at Costco where you just see the front of cars and you will be completely lost and you’ll say to yourself, “I should have listened to the blogger chick, the front does matter.”

It’s OK. I forgive you and I have a plan. You know how your kids are always making you things out of paper, tin foil and garbage? Find one of those and hang it from your review mirror. Bam! Good mom award for not throwing out the treasure and you will be sure to recognize your child’s perfect piece of modern art. You are such a good mom. Your hair is pretty too.

4. Dents

This one is a little tricky. I’m not advocating taking the biggest hammer you can find and smacking the van in various locations to give it a more textured look. No. I’m not. Don’t do that. If you do, make sure it’s after one of your kids just did something truly terrible and your really mad. I can imagine that might feel good and they would be super scared to try that shit again. But you probably, most definitely, should not purposely dent up your van.

However, if your van does get some dents, use those to your advantage! Your dents will be an original expression of your driving and will be highly respected/feared on the road.

Caution: If you think denting up your van bad enough you have to replace it with a cooler car is a possibility, it is not. You will just have a very badly dented van. So, you know, keep that in mind when you start swinging.

5. Music

Once you find your dented, sticker-laden van of motherhood bliss, it is time to stand out more with what you choose to blare from the speakers. This is a personal choice, of course, but I have some wonderful suggestions to make you really stand out.

First, always, and I mean ALWAYS, have the bass turned up. Your kids will love it. Your neighbors will love it. The cute guy in the convertible next to you will love it. Even if you’re playing the soundtrack to the Wiggles (and for heaven’s sake, don’t do that), the bass will overpower the actual music and people will still think your cool.

Second, “Turn Down For What?” Play that. Loud. Even if your kids are napping, they will eventually learn to sleep through it. It’s awesome and you will look much younger and hipper.

Third, don’t forget that car dancing is a perfect excuse to get in some cardio between all those mom errands. The more arm movements, the higher the heart rate. Really go for it. Trust me, your kids will find you adorable and not at all embarrassing.

***

That’s it! It really is so simple. If you follow these 5 easy steps not only will you never get into the wrong van again, but I promise you will live a long, happy life.

Disclaimer: These tips have not been proven to help anyone live a happier or longer lasting life, nor have they been tested on animals (unless you consider my children animals and if you do, shame on you, my kids are perfect.)

Advertisements

The middle chapters are usually like this, aren’t they?

I tear open the candy bar wrapper and take a little bite. Just one bite I tell myself. Just enough to shove down the tears.

The most perfectly fit couple is getting into the car next to me. They have on workout gear and a bag of new golf balls. They are smiling and he opens the door for her. I think they kiss, but I look away before seeing it.

Shame and jealousy overwhelms me. My face burns as I sink down from the judgment I feel through the glass.

I wait until they drive away and then I eat the whole thing.

I don’t even taste it.

The tears come again.

Fuck.

I hear voices and dry my eyes. A woman is ushering a few kids into the van parked next to me. The exact same van as mine. Grey. Plain. Completely practical. The official vehicle of women like us. She makes eye contact with me and I know she sees the tears and the chocolate pooled in the corners of my mouth. She looks away.

I do too.

I keep having these epiphanies, but they fade. Like a dog being fooled by the same trick of throwing the ball, I keep running ahead just in case it was really thrown this time.

Next time I’ll get it.

This part of my life is boring. The monotony and responsibility of being an adult is such a huge letdown from the optimism and hope of youth.

If I am to believe Facebook, I’m alone in this feeling. Yet I know better. I know the truth.

All those memes about changing perspective and living in the moment aren’t just for my benefit. All those pictures of our kids that we post, the one’s where they are smiling and happy, aren’t just to make others think we are so great.

We are all trying to shift focus. Stay in the light. Find the good.

It’s not a lie.

Not really.

It’s just not the whole truth. It’s a version of the truth we all tell ourselves.

FullSizeRenderIt’s the middle of the story and not much is happening.

It’s the boring part of the book you skim, the endless paragraphs of bullshit self-reflection.

It’s the part when the main character wallows in self-pity until you want to punch her in the face and tell her to wake up.

Yeah. That’s where I am.

My story isn’t over.

I think about Abdi, this Somali refugee I heard about on This American Life. He won the U.S. visa lottery, but still had to go through some ridiculous shit to make his American dream come true. He had some real reasons to cry and shove sugar into his veins. Yet his is a story of endurance and patience.

I think about my mom. A few weeks ago, I hugged her goodbye and put her on a plane destined to meet the daughter she gave up for adoption before I was born. She has waited decades for this time, the pain never really going away, and now she got to hug her and look into her eyes and tell her all the things she’d whispered quietly to herself.

I think about waking up in a tent and having my two children climb into my sleeping bag with me to get warm. They giggle and jostle closer, elbows and knees and mangled hair and wet kisses. They love this broken-down woman they call mamma and don’t care she is extra squishy and cries quickly.

I think about this cashier at the grocery store by my home. She is always smiling. Always. Not the fake “can’t wait to get of her look” either. Real. Genuine. I ask her how she is and she always says, “Blessed, thank you.” She means it. It’s not bullshit. I’ve seen customers be rude and throw fits. She handles herself with grace and ease.

I think about this place I’m stuck in. This self-imposed crazy whirlpool spinning me around until I’m disorientated and I want to just sink down in defeat. Happy. Sad. Up. Down. Defeated. Motivated.

Here I am. Right here. I’m at the part of the story when the character has to decide to do something. The time has come for action.

My story isn’t over.