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15 Sarah Gilbert: Hacking life with kids, but without a car


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Variously considered a right, a responsibility, and the only status symbol that counts, here in America, cars 'R us. My family decided one day to go against that grain and we gave up our car, suddenly …

Variously considered a right, a responsibility, and the only status symbol that counts, here in America, cars 'R us. My family decided one day to go against that grain and we gave up our car, suddenly and without warning. Over the ensuing two-and-a-half years, we've learned a lot about living without, bike hundreds of miles, take the bus to the hospital while in labor with baby #3, and discover that there's nothing quite as cute as a baby asleep on your handlebars, but that doesn't mean the traffic on 39th avenue will cut you any slack.

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  • 1. hacking life with kids but ... without a car sarah gilbert . writer . photographer . sustainable food nut . family biking evangelist
  • 2. this is not a how-to guide. this is not a top-five list. this is not a technical document. there will be no collection of amusing anecdotes.
  • 3. this is a meditation. take a deep breath. in. out. ahhhh...
  • 4. first, let go of your fear. you may have been infused, in our culture of trepidation, with the impression that biking and publicly-transporting your small children might be dangerous.
  • 5. you are not a target. you are icon, symbol, inspiration. they do not look at you in anger or dispassion; they look at you with admiration, honor, love. in your beauty is your protection; in love is your strength.
  • 6. you are not afraid. no, on the contrary you are bold, sure of your ability to hold up a little head as your baby naps on the ride; to comfort a three-year-old who's just dropped his favorite toy; to stop and smell the fennel.
  • 7. let us recall physics. you are an object in motion, yes, but your motion is slowed, your weight is barely more than your own and that of your children, your groceries.
  • 8. you will dress warmly. you will layer. you will bring things: water bottles, crunchy snacks, spare towels and hats and pretty knitted blankets. you will bring books and crafts and coffee cups. things to heal, things to pass the time, things to capture this time, savor, save, salve...
  • 9. you are still taking deep breaths. in. out. do you see yourself on the bike? bakfiets. xtracycle. trailer. tagalong. bobike-burley- schwinn. your head is nicely be-helmeted and your panniers are stocked.
  • 10. you are thinking, yes. yes. it takes more preparation and paraphernalia, it takes more bundling and lugging, more advance notice, but is the journey not, after all, the point?
  • 11. you can see the beauty in the problem. the ingenuity of reusing old inner tubes, the many uses for a baby carrier, the providence of many patches, a place for every tote bag (and every tote bag in its place)
  • 12. you are not too tired. you are not too weak. you are strong enough. power is a process, not a 'yes' or 'no' question. you can do this. you, you, and you too.
  • 13. ease into it. use your options. take the hill slowly.
  • 14. remember your identity. your identity does not have four wheels or a hood ornament. your identity is you; your legs, your heart, pounding-pumping-working, your lungs. in. out. ahhhh.
  • 15. you are not alone. you are part of something. community. nature. a slower pace of life.
  • 16. the world is not passing you by. you are passing by the world, you are in the world. you are the world, and the world is you.
  • 17. if you should want to stare at the moon... if you should have a babe fall asleep on the way home ...
  • 18. .. look, listen, breathe. your time is your time it is all there is, you are where you are. you are not en route. you are already here.
  • 19. you are riding your bike. you are taking the bus, train, streetcar. you are a character in a story book; you are the role and the model. you do not pray for change in the world, you are the world, you are the change and it is for you I pray too.
  • 20. i am @sarahgilbert i write as much as i can find me: mama @ cafemama .com www .cafemama. com urbanmamas / supereco / walletpop