12/04/2013 10:01 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2014

The Big Car Years

Jennifer Meer

Today we got a new car. We said goodbye to my sweet little hybrid sedan and ushered in a new era in our family: that of the seven seater. In a world of SUVs, I have truly loved my little car. It was perfectly suited to me and my family as we grew from a family of three to four. It was the first car that was ever truly mine; not my father's or sister's or husband's or in-laws, but just mine. It made me feel grown up in a rather traditional and silly way. It felt little and warm and cozy when we were all tucked inside on cold days, and breezy and sunny with the moon roof on warm days. It shuttled me all sorts of places including back and forth between New Jersey and Connecticut, during the many years that we've ping ponged back and forth. I've loved how quiet it is, how little gas it takes, how relatively easy it is to park it -- even for a horrible parker like myself.

But it's time to let go. As our family prepares to grow from four to five, we've decided my little sedan will just be too cozy and that we are reluctantly somewhat forced to graduate to the land of three rows. The car we picked out is lovely as far as cars go. In general, we aren't car people. I'm excited for it; a bit nostalgic to let my hybrid go. But after all, what is it I'm really nostalgic for? I suppose it isn't really about cars at all.

Family cars often represent chapters in a family's life. I vividly remember the day my father came home with his 1985 Delta 88 Oldsmobile. We all piled in and went for a spin around the block. The seats felt fancy and new. It had power windows and a tape deck where we played the special promotional cassette tape that came with the car which sang with passion about the "special feeling in an Oldsmobile."

It was special indeed. It was the first nice-ish car my father ever entrusted himself with. We had let go of the brown Pontiac without seatbelts, the beat up and sticky Chevy Impala station wagon. We weren't babies anymore. We were 8, 13, and 14. Our little family was growing up. Our new grown up car reflected that. In the end, we'd take many a family vacation in our Oldsmobile; the trip up or back in the car as much a memory as the vacation itself. Who got the middle seat, whose mix tape played next. There was Washington, D.C., and the White Mountains, and Ocean Beach. It was part of our summers and was a prominent character in the story of our lives. And 10 years and considerable wear and tear later, I dragged a far less glamorous version of that car to college with me.

As it will be with this car, which will help us tell a new story in our lives. We will have three children. I am enormously excited and scared at the same time. You know how some people have a recurring dream that they can't quite shake? I have one where I am driving and the accelerator is sticking and I can't get the brake to work. I am hurtling through time and space very fast. As I approach this new place in our lives, it feels a little like this. Even still, I am hopeful and eager to begin this new chapter. There will be potty seats and crushed goldfish and road trips, first dances and soccer games. There will be summer vacations and sandy seats, instruments for early band practice, maybe even first kisses. And someday, we will fold those same seats down to make room for boxes and bags as we move one of those babies into their first dorm or apartment.

Ready or not, foot to the pedal -- bring on the big car years!