Shut Up and Drive

Without meaning to sound big headed or smug, it’s a fact that Mrs Lighty passed her driving theory test with full marks and her driving practical test first time. And I can say that without sounding big headed or smug when I follow it up with this next statement: I absolutely hate driving. Like with a passion akin to a phobia. Just the thought of it freaks the hell out of me, and with this in mind, I haven’t driven for – oooh – about 18 months now. I mean, what’s the point of passing first time, if you then go on to barely drive?! Stupid Mrs Lighty.

That’s not to say, however, that I wish I didn’t feel this way. That I’d love to be able to hop into a car as most other people I know do, and pootle off to wherever it is that Baby Lighty and I are headed that day. But something inside me means that I just can’t.

Of course, since Mr Lighty drives the family car to work, that also stops me from driving during the week, but it’s also a convenient excuse a lot of the time. So what exactly is it that has stopped me from driving, if not the car itself?

Well, it all started a long time ago…when Mrs Lighty was about 21 in fact. I’d passed my test at 18, but didn’t have the means to buy a car. So when Daddy Hatchy upgraded his car, and offered me his old one, I jump-started at the chance. Only trouble was, it was an automatic, and I’d learnt in a manual…and it seemed exceptionally heavy to a dainty (who am I kidding?!) little thing like a 21 year old Mrs Lighty. I kept telling both Daddy Hatchy and Mr Lighty that the car was just too heavy for me, but they didn’t believe me. That is, until I physically couldn’t manoeuvre the car on the drive when I went to visit Mr Lighty, and he had to jump in to do it for me. At that point, he suddenly agreed with me. And then Daddy Hatchy decided to take my car loaded up with rubbish to the dump, as he didn’t want to get his shiny new car dirty, and suddenly, after not having driven it for a few months, he admitted that perhaps – just perhaps – the powered steering had given up the ghost.

So there I was, driving this lump of a car, going no further than the 5 minute drive to Mr Lighty’s parent’s house or Tesco, not really feeling very confident but pushing on with it all the same. Until one day, I managed to hit a bus. As Brother Hatchy said at the time, “how did you not see a bus?! It’s a great big red thing!”. And yes, it’s true, it is a great big red thing, but I was in a queue of traffic, being beeped from behind for not overtaking the bus, and even though I knew that I didn’t have the room to overtake safely, peer pressure got the better of me and I gave in to those using their horns. Around the bus I attempted to go, and in the process completely smashed the wing mirror of my car. A minor prang to some, but enough to put me off driving completely.

From that point forward, I’ve hardly driven. I had a brief dalliance with a Paul McKenna hypnosis podcast, which helped enough for me to be able to drive Mr Lighty’s then KA on occasion, and Mr Lighty kindly bought me a gift (which, at the time, I thought would kill me through anxiety alone) when we were engaged of refresher driving lessons. I did these extensively, my instructor even having the same car that we were driving at the time, and while I did drive occasionally, I was never very confident and certainly never enjoyed it. It didn’t help that I was much more nervous with Mr Lighty in the passenger seat, doing a Hyacinth Bucket on me (“Watch that cow in that field 3 streets away! There’s a traffic light coming up in ten minutes’ time!”) than I was with my instructor, and whilst I can say that I have driven our current car, all those patient hours of refresher lessons have pretty much gone to waste (with very many apologies to my super-patient instructor: sorry Mr Evvy!).


But now I’m a mum, so where does this leave me? On the bus, mostly. At least, that’s where I’m often found physically, with Baby Lighty either in the pushchair or sling. But emotionally? It’s just another dimension of mummy guilt. My anxiety is obviously something which plays into why I don’t drive in the first place, and yet now I’m battling the feeling that I’m letting Baby Lighty down by not driving, too. All those places we could be going, all those friends we could be visiting, all those interesting things we could be doing. It’s also incredibly embarassing having to cadge a lift from friends yet again. I also worry (that bloody anxiety!) about what we’d do if Mr Lighty was unable to drive for some reason, as we’re so reliant on him, and someone once also put the seed of disquiet into my brain about what happens when Mr and Mrs Lighty are old and grey, if Mrs Lighty is the only one of the two of us physically able to drive but unwilling to do so?

Having said this,  I don’t feel that driving is something that I can overcome my fear of easily. I worry about Baby Lighty being in the car, any car, even when I’m a passenger, or when he is a passenger for someone else. The car seat is something I’m completely paranoid about, as family have come to find out to their detriment when Mr and Mrs Lighty discovered that a forward-facing car seat unsuitable for Baby Lighty’s weight and age was once used to transport him home. I fear that this misdemeanor has been brushed aside by those concerned, and that we’ve been laughed at for our ‘paranoia’, but in our minds, Baby Lighty is our most precious cargo, and so it’s our duty – and that of those that care for him – to make sure his is transported safely.

And I worry that, should I be the one driving Baby Lighty, he wouldn’t be transported safely. It’s maybe irrational, as anyone, even the most experienced of drivers, can have an accident, but that’s anxiety for you. So with this in mind, this post is a bit of a public apology to Baby Lighty: I’m sorry that you may miss out on some things, simply because your mummy is a bit of a numpty and too scared to drive. I’m sorry for all of those times when we’ve had to get the bus or the train, when jumping in the car would be the much simpler and more comfortable option. And I’m sorry that I haven’t managed to beat the fear, yet. Yet. For I may well beat it one day; we’ll see.

But in the meantime, shut up and drive? It’s simply not that simple.

Proud to be linking up with:

A Mum Track Mind
Pink Pear Bear
Rhyming with Wine

18 thoughts on “Shut Up and Drive”

  1. I can’t drive for medical reasons. I walk my daughter to as many playgroups as I can, we get the bus and the train. Sometimes I wish I could drive, especially when I need to do a big supermarket shop, but we get round it, and it sounds like you do too. #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Thank you, yes we do. We do lots of walking!!!! Fortunately I don’t mind walking but it would be easier if I could get over my fear. Thanks for reading my post 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. Such a good read!
    I actually know of a couple of people who don’t drive for the same reasons as you. And though it may be inconvenient at times, there is a bright side in all this: Public transport is a lot better for the environment… 😉
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. All of this!
    I had lessons when I was 18. I never passed my test (I had four!) and when my theory ran out I never bothered to renew it. People ask me often why I never tried again and quite simply I never felt comfortable behind the wheel of a car. I never felt happy or confident and whilst I appreciate it is a useful skill to have I’d rather get the train or the bus than put myself in a situation that would just stress me out.

    1. Yes that is exactly me too! Is driving worth the stress and anxiety? At the moment no. Maybe one day it will be. We’ll see. Thank you for taking the time to read my post 🙂 xxx

  4. awww I really feel for you because any type of knock when it comes to driving can throw your confidence. you might find some cbt or something like that might help :/ i have to drive for work and go on the motorway every day. ive been in three car accidents as well. none of my fault. i still “like” driving though – mostly. good luck and i really hope one day you can overcome some of the anxiety. thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofblog. hope you can come back next week!

  5. I always knew you were a bit anxious about driving but not to this extent – I honestly can’t imagine not being able to drive, so I do find it hard to understand when people don’t drive, but can fully understand when you outline your reasons here. It took me EIGHT attempts to pass my test but actually feel pretty confident in my driving. I wouldn’t worry about how it affects Baby L…you seen to manage fabulously on public transport and as far as I can tell you, he hasn’t missed out on anything so far! P.s I did comment on this post when you first posted but it didn’t show for some reason xxx

    1. Oh that’s weird that it didn’t show originally! I didn’t receive any notifications to that effect either…I’ve said to Mr Lighty that I have a theory that if you pass first time you’re not as confident as someone that takes 5 attempts to pass!! I just wish I could get over the fear but at the moment it seems impossible 😔 xxx

  6. I love this because I’m a bit of a nervous driver too. Actually, the driving itself I don’t mind too much, it’s the parking (I know, I am an awful cliche). When I know I am going to my parents or in-laws where I can park on the road nice and easily and no reversing or maneuvring is required I am fine but when someone suggests I meet them at this or that attraction I am filled with fear about the car park and find any way to avoid driving myself!! Luckily we live near the town centre and near a huge park so I can walk to lots of baby groups, shops and friends houses. And I try and save zoo visits and so on for when my husband can drive.

    I don’t think you should feel bad, it’s far better for the environment to use public transport too 😉 And understandable that you’d rather not do something which makes you anxious. #fartglitter

    1. I’m the same, I save big trips out for when Mr Lighty can drive. You sound like you’re doing far better than me though at driving in the first place! Just hope that Baby Lighty isn’t missing out too much! Thanks for reading my post xxx #fartglitter

  7. I want to climb down the internet cables and hug you Mrs L! I hate it too. So much that I get slightly hysterical at the idea of having to drive somewhere that I don’t know or haven’t driven before, and like you I got 100 x worse once I had precious cargo on board. In my case it didn’t help that I was involved in two bumps (neither my fault mind you) when I was about 7 months pregnant, once with each of my two tots. It completely shook me up and while I will drive, I will only go on specific routes to places that I have been before. If a new trip anywhere is due I will make the hubby drive me there first as a passenger so that I can concentrate on the roads and the lanes etc so that nothing takes me by surprise when I have to do it myself. Like you say – that’s anxiety for you. I’m sure that our little people will forgive us as we just care for them so much, and there are so many ways to get places now without a car. We just need to be a little more resourceful and that’s never a bad thing. *hugs* xx
    Thanks for linking with #fartglitter

    1. Thanks for sending the hugs! I’m glad it’s not just me, although you are doing a lot better than I am by the sounds of it! In a weird way, writing this post has made me feel more determined about beating my demons, but we’ll see… Thank you, as always xxx #fartglitter

  8. Yes, I totally agree-it really is not that simple at all… And you really do have all my sympathies and hugs. Our stories are similar in some ways-I passed my test, then immediately wouldn’t drive anywhere, through sheer fear of not having my driving instructor there anymore, so my new car sat untouched for months. Then I got a job which involved an hours commute each way on the MOTORWAY (the thought of which made me feel sick,) and then needing to be in and out of the car all day for the job. Being forced into all this driving made the fears go away, and I classed myself as a confident driver. Then I went on maternity leave… I relished not having to spend all that time driving anymore, and as we live in a city-everything I wanted to get to was easily walkable, and I walked everywhere, whatever the weather. I didn’t drive again until I went back to work, and I realised I’d become terrified of it all over again. Then, like you, I crashed the car-the baby was in it, and I was 5 months pregnant. That was it, I decided I could never drive again-I even had to be signed off work for the rest of the pregnancy, because the thought of all the driving, and hurting my precious babies, was giving me panic attacks. I was then nervous about everything, including pulling out of our road, which involves mainly having to turn right (towards all the places I usually need to get to,) onto a really busy road. I panicked that I’d never get out, that drivers behind me would be annoyed with me, that the vision was bad with all the cars parked on the road obscuring my vision… The list of things stopping me pulling out of just my road seemed endless! BUT, I’ve just started driving more, recently… We bought a much larger car, and I love the extra vision that being higher up brings. I also feel safer in a bigger car. I still get nervous, but I’m driving again, so I’ve moved forward.
    If you can’t overcome your fears, you will get by! And if you can, then good for you!! It may take a while, and your confidence come and go, but all of us who’ve had ‘the fear’ will be behind you!! Xx
    #bigpinklink

    1. Ah thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate it! Sounds like you were super brave to do all of that driving, and I’m glad you’re back behind the wheel again after your bumps in the road. Weirdly writing the post is making me feel more and more determined about beating my fears, but we’ll see. Thank you for taking the time to read my post 🙂 #bigpinklink

  9. Nowadays it sounds a serious matter when you say you can’t drive abut definitely its not that big issue. Opting for public transport is the best and the safest mode of traveling specially in places where you get buses easily. When you drive you definitely have the risk and fear of accidents so you need to excel in it as there are many fools on the road who might risk you even if you drive carefully.

    1. Yes that’s partly what I worry about. Even if I was a fantastic driver, others may not be. It’s something I’d like to conquer, but it’s not going to happen just yet. Thanks for taking the time to read my post 🙂

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