By Robin Jean Marie Conte

I have a home away from home. I don’t go there for holidays; I go there because it’s part of my job. If you’re a mom you know what I’m talking about. My second home is my minivan.

All the essentials of a household are contained within its automatic sliding doors. Let me show you around. First and foremost is the center of any house: the kitchen. It is located primarily in a cloth bag hanging on a hook on the back of the driver’s seat, where food and beverages can be found. If we dig deep enough, we can produce a protein bar, a bag of trail mix, a half-empty water bottle, and most likely, a box of apple juice from last week’s happy meal.

The utensil drawer is in the console, which contains a plastic spoon and a Swiss army knife.

Thus it is possible to be gridlocked for hours and yet still have the ability to filet a trout and then open a can of fruit cocktail and eat it, too.

Adjacent to the kitchen, in a small bag on the opposite hook, is the medicine cabinet. Here we can find whatever we need for minor cuts and burns, headaches, stomach aches, sore throats, fever blisters and bee stings … plus a can of Altoids.

If we need a tissue, nail file or collapsible brush, we’ll find it in the ladies’ lounge, of which there are three — one in each row of the car. They are well-stocked with Bert’s Bee’s Lip Shimmer, tubes of mascara, baby powder, an assortment of magazines and some moist towelettes.

The basement is in the rear of the van, where we have a Yoga mat and exercise bands. There is also a rogue golf ball that has been rolling around the car for the last four months, and if you find that, please give it to me.

The mudroom is conveniently located immediately inside the passenger door and holds two umbrellas (one folding, one broken), a rain hat, sunglasses, my walking shoes and one dirty sock belonging to a teen-aged boy who may or may not be mine.

For those days when there is an exceptionally long wait in the carpool line, we have the home office. It’s situated in the plasti-form compartments of the driver’s door, which holds note pads, pens, pencils, school directories, some 7-year-old road maps that I’ll never use and a series of “Learn French in Your Car” CDs.

The seats also recline, if I’m ever in need of a bedroom. We paid extra for that feature.

In addition, there’s the miscellaneous clutter found in every household: an Ace Hardware $5 cash-card, a piece of paper that entitles my boys to a free Icedream from Chick-fil-A, and a stack of Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons (because they never expire).

So, if you’d like to join me in running some errands, jump in the minivan, grab a cup of coffee, and make yourself at home.

Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see