I am a person who appreciates the measure of time. I embrace a new year with the setting of goals and the envisioning of fresh starts. I actively mark the occasion of my birthday with celebrations great and small. Granted, sometimes that’s to take the edge off a big number, but usually it’s to celebrate another spin around the sun.

This weekend marked a different passage of time, the end of my era as a minivan mom. I am so grateful and happy with my pretty, gently used RAV4, and I was more than ready to move on from my minivan days, even though I loved those days. Yet it’s bittersweet, as is often true with the passage of time.

I got my Sienna in 2010, in preparation for a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, so that’s been on my mind. I looked back through my scrapbook of that trip, and relived those amazing memories. Driving twenty plus hours with my three boys and my sister and her baby girl. We stopped often, slept in some strange hotels (one with three double beds stuffed into one room, which worked great but was weird!). We saw interesting sites along the way but mostly just had fun in the car altogether, playing games, singing, eating McDonald’s happy meals.

The other memories that are popping up for me are all the times that van was packed full of kids. Taking my kids and their friends to Great America or the zoo or a baseball game. Shuttling 7th and 8th grade boys to and from basketball games and the particularly offensive smell of those sweaty boys as we drove home! Transporting high school boys to volleyball games and having them pull out a Where’s Waldo book from the pocket of the back seat and enjoy searching for the man in the hat just as much as the elementary school kids did when I drove them to Mission San Juan Bautista or Aña Nuevo or the Tech Museum.

That van moved three kids into college dorms, from dorms into houses and apartments, from apartments back home. I loved those road trips to LA and Oregon, listening to Hamilton or Green Day or The Weeknd, having conversations about anxieties and excitements. And I hated those drives home, when I would cry for the first sixty miles or so as I left my children behind.

And that’s not even including the many road trips to Disneyland. The Lake Tahoe days of packing kids and cousins into the car and singing along to the playlists we made each year. Still have those playlists, dating back to 2015, and I’ll still listen on the way to the beach, but we won’t have a car packed with kids like we used to.

That van had 151,000 miles on it. It was time to move onto something new. Life only moves forward, and that is as it should be. Yet it is also nice to take a moment and look back, to acknowledge and appreciate where we’ve been, to ground ourselves in where we are now, and to look ahead to what comes next.