Over coffee, a friend and I were exchanging “our kids don’t nap anymore” stories and woes. She said she had to resort to strapping her son into his car seat and going for a drive so he would finally sleep and give her a moment’s peace. I smiled and gave a knowing nod even though, in my reality, I’ve never had that as an option.
I’m a mom who can’t drive.
Due to poor eyesight, I’m unable to get a driver’s license. I’ve grown up with this inhibition so it was never a big deal to me. I got rides from friends. I walked. I was as independent as I could be in the small California city I grew up in. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon for college and the city has a fantastic public transit system, so even then I wasn’t bothered by having to use my Chevro-legs to get from Point A to Point B.
No, it wasn’t until I had children that it started to become a real pain in the ass.
If one of us has a doctor’s appointment and it’s raining (as it’s prone to do in the Pacific Northwest), I have to bundle up my kids in jackets with rain boots and umbrellas and a snack, because we’re not just walking five feet to the car. We’re walking damn near a mile to my ob-gyn.
If we run out of a necessity like milk or toilet paper, we have to head out into the elements whether it’s cold or not. While other kids jump with glee at the idea of taking a leisurely walk with their parents, my kids don’t have a choice, and it makes me feel bad sometimes. Oh, I know it’s a silly thing to feel guilty about because I literally can’t help it, but I’m a mom who wants what’s best for her kids. And sometimes a walk in windy weather, because we have to run a timely errand when we are already tired, isn’t exactly what’s “best.”
While I could bemoan the unfortunate circumstances (and I do at times), I do my best to look at the bright side of things. My children know all the safety rules like looking both ways before crossing the street and waiting for signals at intersections. They’re learning the ins and outs of public transit at young ages which will make them independent and confident in their later years. They get to meet a variety of people from diverse backgrounds as we go about our daily lives in a busy city. And they’re learning that just because you can’t do something most other people can, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck living a lackluster life. It just means you have to do things your own way.
Many days I wish I could just pack my kids up in the car, crank up the radio, and go for a drive. I wish I had the ability to go around the block a few times until they fall asleep in the backseat like my friend was able to do. But I can’t. This is my life and it’s my kids’ lives and, luckily, it’s all they’ve known about me. They will learn to be self-reliant just like I did, and that’s a lesson I’m proud to teach them.