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My Minivan…a Sacred Place.

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While growing up, there were a few places you could always find me: the trampoline, where I was free and strong; the living room heating vent, where I was warm and safe and my very favorite place, the car, where I felt my parent’s love.

In the front seat of my dad’s car, I cried on his shoulder when I didn’t get a good part in the dance recital. He held me and told me that he loved me, and I knew he meant it. There I learned that I loved Cat Stevens and that my dad was the coolest because he sang AC/DC, off key, at the top of his lungs. It was where he would ask me how things were going and where I would open up to him, telling him about my life over a greasy bag of Crazy Bread before we arrived home for dinner.

Riding in the back seat of my mom’s car was where I was introduced to the Boxcar Children on long rides to California. It was where she quizzed me on spelling words as she rushed me to dance class. I was in the front seat of her suburban when she attempted to talk to me about sex while I blushed and tried to avoid the subject. It was there she shared her disappointment with me when she found out I had lied to her and broken her trust. Riding in the car with my mom was where I grew up, as we chatted about boys, school, work and the future. It was where I changed from being her little girl to her friend.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own, my minivan has transformed into a place for me to connect with my children. Riding in the backseat, my boys have sung my favorite songs from childhood. There they have learned their ABCs and mastered their addition. It’s where they ask me questions about God, the world and nature. It’s where they listen to really cheesy made up stories that they still can’t get enough of. It’s where they yell at me to, “Turn it up,” and where they roll their eyes when I sing too loudly to old school songs. It’s where they learn to share their space and time with each other.

As I drive the everyday routine of carpools and baseball practice, almost every car I see has a mom on a phone, a dad with an earpiece and kids with their own iSomething. The whole family is together, but completely separate.

Because of society’s obsession with being entertained and occupied all the time, I often wonder how many tears have been missed, how many conversations never happen and how many joys have gone unshared because everyone is so busy doing the unimportant.

I can’t help but feel that families should bicker about what song to listen to. They should be a little bored together every now and then. Parents should still have to sing to their kids or tell them a story to pass the time. Families should look out the window at the world together. Siblings should be forced to talk about what is going on in their lives every once in awhile. Screens are easier and quieter, but I’ve discovered that the path of least resistance rarely yields unforgettable moments.

1comment on this storyIn the car, a family is held hostage: kids have to talk to their parents! Here—without intrusive technology—parents have a perfect opportunity to connect with their children. In a society where it seems like no one is ever going in the same direction and individuals often feel alone, parents should hold on to this one last sanctuary for as long as they can.

I’m not perfect at this. Sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of making car time my phone time or turning on a movie sooner rather than later on a road trip. However, in our busy schedules, sometimes car time is all the time we have to spend together. So I have to stop myself when I am in these moments and focus on my children, because they are growing up way too fast, and I don’t want to miss it.

I want my car to be one of my children’s sacred places, just like it was for me. I want to have conversations and make memories as we drive. In order to do this, we’ve decided that for our family, car time will be a time to unplug from electronics and plug into each other. If you choose to join me, I think we may all be surprised by the little and maybe not-so-little people we get to know who have been riding in our backseats all these years.


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19 thoughts on “My Minivan…a Sacred Place.

  1. Great post, Brooke! I think about this sometimes – I have many memories of road trips with my family growing up. We didn't have dvd's in the cars back then or hand held anything! So we had to just read and talk and play games. I have great memories from those times and I really bonded with my siblings!

  2. OK, every single time I comment, it says I'm logged in as me and then it switches while the page loads to my husband's account! Ack! So sorry.

  3. Absolutely love this. I loved hearing the little tidbits about your parents too. 🙂 We are looking at getting a bigger car soon, and I will definitely take into account how well we can talk with each other in that "sacred space" as we check out our options. Thank you!

  4. I remember you saying a while back that you made a point not to use your phone in the car so you can just talk to your kids after school or whenever and I have really taken that to heart. I was just thinking the other day that I should tell you I think of you whenever I think "oh this would be a good time to call my sister" or something and then I decide that I can do that a little later on. As a result, Rebecca and I have had some great chats this year every day driving across town to pick up Jacob and I love hearing about his day on the way home and singing songs at the top our lungs together. This is a really great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. I love this Brooke! Its so true. I have had so many important conversations with my kids while driving them around to their different activities. Our mini-van has been the location of many family discussions on faith, dating, politics and avoiding harmful substances, just to name a few. I have been rewarded by being a Mom who is willing to give their kids friends rides all the time by getting to know all of their cute friends. I wouldn't trade the time driving my kids around for anything, and there is no dvd player in our van!

  6. This definitely rang true for me. My poor car dvd player never gets used, ha ha 🙂 They definitely fight over songs, read books like crazy, ask "what can we do???" and we keep our eyes peeled on the outside world, plus have lots of religious/life discussions. Never really appreciated how great and special our car time is. Thanks!

  7. I grew up with quiet rides in our family van and I often get frusterated mow because I just want to sit and be quiet.. Of course the 3 boys in the back just want to talk and talk. This was good to read… I really need to be more "plugged in" and willing to chat… Same goes for the dinner table!

  8. Dani, that is so crazy because I am always trying for more and more conversation. So interesting how the way we grow up shapes our wants and needs. I think I need to be a little better about enjoying the quiet.

  9. I feel the exact same way! When we bought our minivan, I was so relieved that it didn't come with a TV in it, even though we take a lot of cross country road trips (our first road trip from New Mexico to Florida was with a 3 year, a 2 year old and a 9 month old). I love that when we're driving on a long trip, and the kids start to get antsy, I can yell out "Look, a tree!" (there aren't a lot of trees where we're currently living) and the kids suddenly stop bickering, and start oohing, and aahing, and then look for more trees, or corn fields, or wind mills, or cows, or whatever. I love that they point out different clouds and what they think that cloud is. I would hate to miss all of that! 🙂

  10. Hey Tegan! Thanks for your support. You are an awesome and brave mom to do that cross country drive without electronics. Kudos to you! I am sure there will be many happy car memories in your family!

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