Heija: Whoa! I am exhausted just reading your question. Please accept this virtual hug! You have a lot of challenges in your full life. I hope you are able to find a job closer to home ASAP, as your commute sounds unbearable (even if you do multitask). Becoming a mother does not have to mean giving up your other goals, but it does mean juggling time and priorities, often unsuccessfully. Between the commute, newborn feedings, studying, job search and your day job, it would be a miracle for you to feel anything other than permanently hung over! The reason you cannot find the time is because there is none to find—yet. A shorter commute, fewer nighttime feedings and the confidence to give yourself a break will make things easier soon.
Your mention of a secret society reinforces why this conversation is so important; it's not that we don't want to become parents, it's the best job in the world. It's that we should be able to discuss all aspects of the J-O-B, not just the hearts and flowers or the extreme hardships, but the everyday struggles and triumphs in between. We will be a better society instead of a secret society if we empower each other to freely share our experiences.
Now, about that minivan. Why do so many people assume that all moms need one? If that were the case, the hospital would issue minivans right along with those atrocious diaper bags they foist upon new mothers. Buy a minivan if you want one. But don't be fooled into believing that you need one. I drove a sedan until my boys were ages 3 and 4. These days, my three kids are surviving just fine in my 9-year-old station wagon. I do confess that I am starting to covet those crossover SUVS that offer more seating, less van. My point is this: You get to decide what works for you and your family. It's okay to look around and get ideas and advice, but don't let a commercial stereotype make choices for you. After all, one of the perks of being a mom is making things happen "because I said so."
The love for your stepchildren and your biological children might feel differently