Sunday, November 25, 2007
Proud, Car-Free Mama
I am so proud of my kids right now. I knew I'd better write about it fast, before the wind changes and they are driving me nuts.
I finally sold the van. There was a big part of me that really, honestly, never thought it would actually sell. I mean saying that you're going to sell your car and go car free is all well and good, but actually being car free is a very different story. We've officially been car free for 6 days, and I'm so darn proud of my kids. They've ridden home, on their bikes, in the dark, in the cold, after long, full, fun days out in the world, and they are still smiling.
I've heard it said that it takes ninety days to kick a habit, and I think that's just about how long it took us to break our car habit. At the end of August I made the decision to not fix the van and posted it for sale. Although we had already been biking and taking the bus from time to time, I sat the kids down and explained that we needed to seriously commit ourselves to using the van less. The sweltering heat of the summer was subsiding and we began to pretty much walk and ride everywhere.
The first few weeks, the kids would walk to the car anytime it was time to go somewhere. I would remind them that we were biking and the whining would begin. "I'm too tired." "It's too far." "I hate my bike." As we moved into late September, the whining shifted to a low grumble. I started parking our van on the street and we began using our parking space for bike parking. I cleaned out the van so that it no longer stored extra shoes, jackets, water bottles, books, whatever. We were now down to driving once or twice a week, at most. By October, when the cold set in and we got some rain, the kids began begging me to take the bus rather than bike. Yeeesssss. That's when I knew we were on our way to kickin' the habit. They were begging me to let them take the bus. I think I'm in heaven.
The van sold last Tuesday. I got what I asked for, a very fair price, I thought. The new owners, a young couple with a 9 month old baby, were so excited they wanted to drive it away that night without even test driving it. As they drove away the next morning (I convinced them to come back in the morning so they could sleep on it and at least see it in broad daylight) the kids and I cheered. We did it! Then we looked at one another. It was really gone. "I feel kinda sad," Janey murmured. "I didn't realize that last night would be the last time I rode in our van. That's sad." I agreed. I was sad, too. And a little scared. Now we were really car free. Yikes.
The reason I'm so proud of my kids is that they have embraced being car free completely. It's been about ninety days, and we're no longer experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. When it's time to go somewhere, we grab our scarves and gloves and rain gear and we hop on our bikes. It refreshing and fun and good for us in so many ways. Tonight we were riding home from dinner at a friend's house. It was late, and very cold, but we were all excited about how invigorating the ride home would feel in the moonlight. At one point Macy shouted, "I'm hot and cold all at the same time.......weird!" My kids, and I are learning how to live a little lighter on this earth. And I am so proud.