Friday, April 15, 2016

What Life Was Like (A Little Red Scooter)

I didn't write about it much at the time, but I need to recall it now. What life was like back then... 2011-2014

When the children were smaller we were (and still are) a one car family.

My husband Graeme needed the car every day to get to work, and for the most part we (myself and the kids) didn't need one. Most things, our friends, church, shops, were within a reasonable walking distance. So most days we loaded up the pram and spent our days walking to and from.

When the kids were born I had some fantastic friends who would offer to come and pick me up for particular social occasions that were across town, which I deeply appreciated (you know who you are), but for most of it I did enjoy getting out into the fresh air. At the time I don't think I thought that, but looking back I can see that pounding the pavement was good for me.

We lived in a low income part of town. Kids loitered, men sat on porches smoking and staring, houses were burnt down and threatening dogs left to roam. I often felt scared for our safety and couldn't wait to move out.

It was normal for me to leave the house in the morning with the pram, and not return until dinner time.

Normal to buy only what groceries would fit on the handles of the pram.

Once after my first child was born, I walked 4.8km (I just google mapped it) to a friends home. She text when I was a few blocks away to say our coffee date wouldn't work anymore, and so I turned around and walked 4.8km home. I had had a baby only a few weeks earlier, and the 9.6km journey took days for my post-partum body to recover.

In my next pregnancy I walked to church for a play group, to the grocery store, to a friends house, and home, a 10km journey. When I got home, I had pains in my pregnant belly, my muscles ached and I feared I might go in to labour.

Some days I would wake up at 6am to breastfeed the baby, load the kids into the car and take my husband to work at 7am if I wanted the car for the day. He was more than happy to do this, but it put strain on our whole day. The kids had to eat dinner at 4.30pm, be in their PJs for pick up at 5pm and would often fall asleep on our way home, meaning they were up until 10pm as is the way with Kids and late naps or we would transfer them to bed as soon as we got home and Graeme would miss out on Dad Time. Often it wasn't worth the effort.

Later we moved homes, out of the rough neighbourhood and into a quiet suburban tree lined street where people washed their cars at the weekend. Suddenly, nothing was close by and our oldest had started Kindy and so everyday became a "drop daddy off at work" day. It was exhausting.

These were all normal events in our lives. We thought nothing of it, because that was how it had to be. But we dreamed of having another option. A scooter, we thought, seemed the cheapest. We watched Trade Me auctions for well on a year, some times bidding and praying that one would go cheap enough for us.

Until one day, Graeme bid on one, to hell with what it costed.

I remember pulling into the persons drive way to pick up the scooter. Transferring $1200 that we didn't really have at the time, that had taken what felt like forever to gather in our savings account. I felt anxious. Scared, almost, like we were wasting money. The rain washed over the windows, the children cried in the back seat from hunger and tiredness as we waited for Graeme to get back from his test drive.

"Are you sure??" I asked him.

"I think its good" He replied.

We drove home and the rain relented. He pulled up at the lights next to us, a big smile filling his whole face beneath that helmet. I snapped a photo to record the event on Instagram.

Don't get me wrong, life was happy back then, the photos recorded and shared tell me so anyway. We were content. But now from a new perspective I can see how much of a grind it was. Everyday, like scraping chalk on the concrete, it wore us down, although I never would have admitted that at the time. In hindsight, I don't know how we did it.

It was only one and half years ago that a little red scooter came into our lives but it changed everything from that moment on. The children are allowed to sleep until they are ready to wake, we drive (and still walk on fine days), we explore, visit friends homes and make spontaneous plans, and we spend our afternoons at home, playing without a deadline, dinner is cooked in its own time and our family enjoys a meal together. Graeme can help with the night time chores - readying the children for bed, reading books to them. There was time for none of that before.

As a woman, it has empowered me to be the woman I want to be; one who is free, who is not trapped.

In the morning I wake to the sound of the scooter roaring into life and speeding off down the driveway, often while it is still dark outside.

Half asleep, I smile to myself. My husband, ever loyal, off to work another day.

I feel beyond blessed.


  1. One car family IS hard work! you did awesome for those few years with kids, I'm in awe really. I had the first year of Addys life without a car and it was hard and I walked our neighbourhood all the time just to get out of the house. Go Graeme, and God bless our amazing, loyal husbands that just go and work all day for us and our kids. xx

  2. This is so written Sophie, we were in a similar situation for a few years. I used to walk everywhere with my double buggy! Now we have a trusty family wagon which I drive and the hubs drives a little economical Nana car ;)

  3. I remember those days well - I did not get my licence until the family were well into their teens, so walking 5 - 10 kms a day was 'normal', particularly once we bought our first home. I hear you though, and we do what we have to to keep things running.
    Thankfully DH always had a 'work car' because of the nature of his job, and the boss didn't mind him picking me up if we organised that i was ready to head home when he came home for lunch, or when he finished work.


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