We lasted over two years with one car. If I needed to go anywhere, I would bundle up the baby and hoof it. I went to the library, the grocery store, the butcher, the bookstore, the health food shop, basically, everywhere. This arrangement worked out fairly well, except for a few notable occasions:
These are not within walking distance, so whenever I have a well-child checkup for Little Man, I would have to get up with my husband, usually around 6ish (groan), get ready, get Little Man’s things ready, and get Little Man. Then we would all shlep to Hub’s work, a 25-minute commute (that’s a long way in Cleveland), and then I would still have to wait a little while until Little Man’s appointment. Thankfully, his appointments are at least in the same general place as where my husband works (same campus, different building). This arrangement worked, somewhat, when Little Man was just Little Baby, but as he got bigger it wreaked havoc on his schedule. Also, it wreaked havoc on my schedule, because after a half-hour of driving there, waiting for the appointment, having the appointment and driving back, I just wanted to take a big ol’ nap myself. And I usually did, with minimal success, depending on Little Man’s awakeness level.
So there was that.
I started working as a substitute at one of the local day schools in our area. The school was within walking distance, and the babysitter I took Little Man to was within walking distance, but when you combined both the walking distances, and the distance between them, it took me a good hour to get to work. Compound that with Cleveland winter, and it was at least an hour and a half. It’s only 3.37 miles from my house. It’s a nine-minute drive. While I may be very gung-ho about walking places, even that was too much for me. It was discouraging and frustrating. I was sometimes able to get a ride with other teachers, or nice friends, but I disliked having to try to scrounge for a ride, especially since I would have to shlep the car seat for the baby, and make sure it was available for whoever was giving me a ride home, and so on and so forth.
So there was that, too.
There were also things like not being able to shop at the grocery store with the cheapest prices because I was limited to the stores that either I could walk to, or that were open after my husband got home from work (some stores really close early here, and some stores my husband doesn’t like me go to after dark). And then there were other things, like when I needed to run to the music store, or maybe go somewhere beyond walking distance with Little Man.
Of course, there were benefits to being a one-car family, like not having to make car payments, or perform maintenance on two cars. And I was in the best shape of my life. Little Man got plenty of fresh air, and I felt good about being able to walk everywhere I needed, for the most part. Also, I spent significantly less money because it’s hard to impulse buy anything substantial if you’re carrying it home on your back.
After I got pregnant with Baby Silver #2, and I was facing OB-GYN appointments and well-child checkups, and I was working part-time with the hour and a half walk to go less than 4 miles, we began to strongly consider getting a second car.
And we did it.
I had visions of all the errands I would run during the daytime, the money we would save on groceries, the places I would go with Little Man, the freedom!! Oh, the freedom!
While I may indeed be saving money on our grocery bill, I now realize that going grocery shopping with a toddler and while pregnant is not a simple endeavor. Especially the part where I have to shlep all the groceries upstairs on my own, since it’s during the day, and my husband is at work. It’s hard! And I have to time it just so to prevent a screaming Little Man during the shopping trip itself.
I also don’t go nearly as many places as I thought I would. There’s this kind of paralysis, where I know I can get to wherever I need to faster, because I have the car, but then I don’t want to take the car, because walking is healthier, and I don’t want to become the person who drives to a place when I could easily walk. So I end up not going. Well, at least lately I don’t go, but I think that could also be a function of being 9 months pregnant, and having a lack of energy and/or desire to do much in the way of physical activity.
So that’s my confession. We really needed the second car, but I really don’t use my car that much in the end! I don’t regret getting that second car, in fact, I’m really glad that we have it. And I guess it’s a good thing that I’m not spending too much on gas, or going on wild and crazy shopping sprees. It’s just funny how expectations don’t always line up with reality.