Drew was born and raised in Manhattan and, as a result, has made it to (almost) 42 without ever learning to drive. When I got pregnant last year, Drew and I had a deal that I would take an introductory class in Judaism and he would get a driver’s license. While I failed on my end of the deal — hey, it’s exhausting work growing a human! — Drew did take three driving classes — not enough to actually learn to drive, but enough to almost run over a mother and child crossing the street and rattle his nerves so much he’s not likely to ever get behind the wheel again. Unfortunately, driving is something that, while I actually have the experience and license to do, makes me a nervous wreck, too, particularly in the city where we live, so much so that I’ve only driven once since moving to New York nearly five years ago. Sometimes this is a terribly disappointing scenario, especially in terms of raising children. I’d always envisioned taking family road trips or driving my kids to the community pool for swim lessons, but if both Drew and I remain hopeless causes behind the wheel, I fear those fantasies may stay just that.
While I haven’t officially given up the idea that we may eventually be a car family — or, at the very least, a family who occasionally takes weekend drives in a sensible rental to pumpkin patches in the fall or lake cabins upstate in the summer, Drew’s idea of being a mobile family is more focused on choosing the perfect stroller for our five-month-old. Instead of poring over Bluebook values of gently used cars like many middle class parents with growing families, Drew pores over consumer reviews and instruction manuals of strollers. He stops people on the street and asks their thoughts on whatever model they happen to be pushing their precious cargo in. And when we finally made it to the baby store in our neighborhood last weekend, he fretted over the difference between an UPPAbaby and a Maclaren (we settled on the UPPAbaby, pictured above).
Rolling our new stroller out of the store, I felt a twinge of sadness that there wasn’t a horn to honk at passersby to celebrate our big-ticket purchase. Marking the occasion instead with a couple Margaritas at a baby-friendly Mexican restaurant down the street, I was reminded of one of the upsides to not driving. After finishing our drinks, we carried the folded stroller onto the street where Drew and I took turns trying to figure out how to open the damn thing. Neighbors walked around us as we passed the baby back and forth and shook the stroller, pushed its various buttons and doohickeys and finally got wise and looked up the directions in the owner’s manual.
I immediately imagined us, instead of on the friendly streets of Park Slope, Brooklyn, on a busy freeway with an overheated engine or a flat tire or a loose axle, pulled over to the shoulder of the road and calling triple-A with a screaming baby in the back seat. The vision doesn’t do anything for my anxiety about driving, especially with a partner who doesn’t have a license, but it does temper some of my immediate disappointment over our current state of mobility. For now, I’m more than happy pushing around a stroller through Brooklyn and darting around New York City on the subway with my baby nestled next to me in a carrier. But talk to me this summer when my craving for a road trip kicks in… I may end up revisiting the deal I made with Drew last year and take those Judaism classes, after all.