Walking down Pine St., singing to my son, who is happily watching everything from his perch on my back in his carrier. This cheery scene is a common one in my days caring for my 8 month-old son.
“When I get out the car and start walking again
That’s when I can tell that I’ve got the very ground for my own friend
Well when I walk, as I will do
In fact, I don’t wish for a ride from you
And I do not walk for exercise
Nor to live among the wise
And I don’t want automotive help, thanks
I’ll walk fine by myself
And I want nothing ‘tween me and the ground
I just wanna wander and walk around”
I declared at 18 that this was my theme song.
Even then, I was already a self-proclaimed “committed pedestrian.”
I used to have the same dreams of driving a car as most teenagers. In Driver’s Ed, when I got to the driving portion of class, the instructor brought me out in his teaching vehicle, and at the end of the lesson told me I was hopeless, and that he would not be taking me driving in the future. I finished the classroom portion and did not mention my embarrassing dismissal to my friends or classmates until long after graduation.
I made peace with carrying a Non-Driver’s ID long ago, but when I got pregnant, people started challenging me; insisting I “couldn’t be someone’s mom without driving a car.”
Eight months into motherhood, I can tell you that you absolutely can be a parent in any semi-urban area without a car. Not only that, but I have found some surprising perks to being carless. (Before I expand on the perks of carlessness, I want to take a quick second to check my privilege: I am a stay at home mom of one baby; I do not coordinate daycare pick-ups, work commutes, or sports games. My husband does drive, and we have a small car; there are errands like runs to Costco that I absolutely could not do without a car. With that said; on to the perks!)
1) I never feel I am rushing myself or my child.
As a carless mama, I take for granted that getting places is going to take a long time, and I plan accordingly. There’s no waiting til the last minute to pile into the car. While this sometimes limits our options, I am happy to have that practical filter on our activities that keeps us focused on our priorities. Yeses are doled out much more carefully when you have to factor in 20- 60 minutes of travel time. Google Drive is a lifesaver- I enter my mode of transportation (for us- bus or walking) and your desired arrival time, and the app spits out directions that leave ample time to arrive at the destination in a timely manner.
2) I can go out with minimal disruptions to my baby.
If my son falls asleep on our bus ride or walk, there’s no need for me to move him and disturb his nap when we arrive somewhere. If he gets hungry halfway to Grandma’s house, I can help him get latched and keep moving. I will say that nursing on the go is a must have skill for any breastfeeding mom attempting to go carless, but once mastered is incredibly freeing.
This is the biggest one for me- 95% of our solo travel time, he’s on my front or back in a carrier or wrap. I talk to him about the scenery, where we are headed, who we will see, and my son loves making new friends on the bus. Before I had him, I was always impatient with my bus commutes, but now I never wish the time away with him there chatting with me, or his sleepy head snuggled on my back or chest. As he grows, I look forward to more and bigger adventures traveling Chittenden County together as a team.
4) I am very physically active.
We have to turn down last minute playdates with potential new mom and baby friends. I don’t love to rely on my husband to do certain errands for us. That being said, the overwhelming chorus of “you can’t have a baby and not drive!” I heard when pregnant was decidedly wrong, and I have found many things to love about this aspect of my experience with motherhood.
Written by Jillian Kirby
I grew up in central Vermont one of a class of five students. Among my many skills, I can: temper chocolate, edit a winning grant proposal, use a commercial meat slicer safely, type 60 words per minute, run a meeting smoothly under Robert’s Rules, and prep lasagna for forty in 30 minutes. I wouldn’t trade my unconventional education for any university experience in the world. One winter evening friend insisted I would love this progressive-metal-rock band playing at Metronome. I did, and after their set I was introduced to their guitarist, my future husband. We married three years later, and one week shy of our second anniversary we welcomed our son Monroe to the world. I am a passionate DIY’er and a miter saw is currently at the top of my personal wish-list. When the baby goes to sleep my husband and I like to stay up late watching anime or any of the Netflix Original Series, and talk about politics.