So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I always said there are two things in this world that I would never own. I would never own a trampoline, and I would never own a minivan.

I am also blessed with an 11-year-old who is extraordinarily gifted at wheedling. And so after years of holding out I found myself in the last place I thought I’d ever be (besides prison or Walmart), the trampoline showroom, judging the merits of the oval versus the square, the 12-foot versus the 14-foot, hearing about the free hoop with every purchase, a $99 value. My husband just rolled his eyes and handed over the credit card.

Today, our side yard is adorned with a 12-foot Springfree trampoline, framed by an extra-special-safety net that guarantees to stop even the most husky high school linebacker from falling to his death. Not even one trip to the emergency room, yet!

Here’s where the guilty confession comes in. Sure, I had heard all the stories about about the broken arms and dislocated shoulders, and was worried for the safety of my children and their friends as they flew high into the air, risking collision and perilous, awkward, and neck-breaking falls.

But my biggest beef was one of pure vanity: trampolines seemed kind of – tacky. However misguided I was, I had long associated them with child beauty pageants, waterbeds, Twinkies, above-ground pools, and turtleneck dickeys. Faddish things without much substance. I was convinced that every yard that had a trampoline also had a rusty chain link fence and a brown velour sofa, cast off from the family room and intended for the dump but “temporarily” relegated to the yard, now moldy, springs akimbo.

But here’s the kicker  – trampolines are FUN! There’s nothing quite like jumping, unfettered, higher than your own head, or bouncing at just the right moment to cause your friend to boomerang upwards, screaming with laughter. You can send a pack of boys out to the yard to “burn off energy,” and they come back, spent and quiet, or quieter, at least.

But no way was I ever going to own a minivan, even though we once rented one for a family trip and it was the first time our family of 7 (including two Labradors) got through a long drive meltdown-free. I fancied myself the spunky mom who wouldn’t succumb to convention even if it was practical. I was a 4-wheel-drive Honda Pilot kind of girl, in my Timberland boots and my red bandana headband. (Okay, I never wore that). My radio was blasting Arcade Fire and vintage Depeche Mode, not “The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round . . . ”

Four words should suffice: soccer mom; suburban defeat.

A few months ago, the telltale signs that the universe was conspiring against me started cropping up. My beloved Pilot hit 175,000 miles, and the ominous lights started blinking on a regular basis, those that communicate “Needs Maintenance NOW,” and “Danger: Low Oil.” We joined a carpool and two of the nicest kids had to climb through the rear door into the third row, every morning, hauling their 75-pound backpacks over the seat with difficulty.

And, then, the death knell. Quicker than you can say “soccer mom,” my sister offered to sell us her luxury Honda Odyssey, Touring Edition, low mileage at a great price, with its plush seats, DVD player, and ample room for the family, the carpool, the two Labradors . . .

It’s a slippery slope, and I tobogganed down it, right into minivan ownership.

Like anything you think you’ll never do, I am working hard at being at peace with my decisions. Jumping on the trampoline is good for your “core,” you know, and now ours is the fun house on the block–admittedly both a pro and a con.

And the Honda Odyssey/mobile theatre, with its automatic sliding doors and cushy black leather seats, is pretty comfy. I’m tooling around, playing Depeche Mode, and hoping that people are thinking “Oh, that must be the nanny.”

Helen Townes

Helen Townes is a mother of three, wife of a busy doctor, and director of communications at a French immersion school in Portland, Oregon. She holds a master's in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon, and has been a freelance writer and editor for many years. In her spare time (!!??), Helen loves to read (Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, John Irving, and David Sedaris, among others), run really fast (a 10:30 minute-mile, that is), and watch Portland's MLS soccer team, the Timbers.

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