If you know me, or have read any of my old posts, you will know that A) I have epilepsy and B) I don’t drive (largely down to A).
I could have learnt when I was a teenager, but I didn’t have the money. Then I moved to London and seriously who needs to drive when they live and work in London? It’s a sound argument but one I still regret listening to.
I had a period when I couldn’t learn as my epilepsy wasn’t great but eventually I went fit free for long enough to apply for my provisional and as we were living in Swansea by this time I had both the money and the inclination to start learning.
This was back in 2010. I did about 6 months worth of lessons and also a decent amount of driving Ben’s car in the evenings. If I’m honest with myself now, I was almost ready for my test, but as with so much in life, when I get to close to where I want to be I self sabotage. I baulked at the thought of taking my test so decided to have a break from lessons while I went to the States for two weeks and when we came back I argued that work was so busy I needed to concentrate on that. It was a load of rubbish and such an enormous mistake. I should totally have kept going and got my licence. And I still kick myself for being so stupid. Six months after I stopped my lessons I had a fit, meaning I couldn’t renew my provisional licence when we moved to Haslemere. Meaning I couldn’t carry on learning even if I’d wanted to.
So for the past five years I’ve lived in a community where being able to drive is so, so important. We’re not exactly isolated, but my small town is not the easiest place to live without transport, believe me. After I had Oscar my epilepsy hit another bad patch (thank you pregnancy hormones), but eventually last year I got to the point where I could reapply for my provisional. I was so happy when I got it and so proud to put it in my purse.
And there it’s sat. Doing nothing for over a year. Why? I think I told myself it was because Oscar was at nursery for such short sessions, but really,I could have fitted a lesson in if I’d really wanted to. The truth is I think I was scared. I’m not a naive teenager (apologies to any teens who might read this, I don’t mean to generalise, but I think it’s fair to say 37 vs 17 comes with some extra life experience), I know what can go wrong. I know I’m not invincible. And since having Oscar and becoming a mother that anxiety has only increased. I spend my life second guessing what I will need to do to keep my baby safe, hell keep him alive! And the thought of putting us in a big powerful metal box seems totally counter intuitive.
So yeah I think I’ve put it off because I’m just scared. Which, you know, is fair enough. The trouble is he’s getting bigger. Until now I’ve been able to stick him in the buggy and go as far as my legs could take us (and I really do mean walking, public transport where we live is bloody awful!). But he’s growing out of the buggy and walking miles along busy roads really isn’t an option, for many four years to be honest, but especially not one who has issues around following instructions and a compromised sense of danger. Add to that the fact that the school we have chosen for him is a little over three miles away, well. I’ve realised I’m not doing this for just me anymore. It’s no longer just another life achievement to tick off the list. It’s becoming more of a necessity for all of us.
Oscar autism means we often have appointments for this and that and none of them are ever local. At the moment Ben’s having to take time off work every time, but that’s not sustainable. Sure it’s important that he comes to some of the meetings but I know there are some we could attend alone and it’s a pain for him to have to keep rearranging his days and using his holiday for something he wouldn’t need to if I could drive.
So, really I no longer have the luxury of putting it off, for whatever reason. Or excuse. I’ve just to got do it. For all of us.
Which is why I had my first lesson in six year today. I was scared sure. And top level I was nervous, I just didn’t want to mess anything up (and that’s adults learning new stuff, we’re not great at admitting we’re not perfect straight away) . But do you know what? I didn’t feel sick the way I did when I first started learning. I remembered so much more than I thought I would. And even if we only did ‘driving round quiet residential streets’, I still did it. My clutch control was better than I ever imagined it would be and didn’t make the car kangaroo once.
I’m so proud of myself. Yes I am doing this for my family, but as a friend said to me, “it’s very liberating”. And that’s for me.
Now I wonder if I could do this by the end of the year?