The Very Literal Stay at Home Mom

When I say that I’m a stay at home mom…I mean it…literally. I stay at home. I don’t go anywhere. I stay at home and I don’t go anywhere because I don’t have a driver’s license. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with my sister’s accident…I just never got my license.

I wasn’t your typical teenager, I suppose. While I had friends and I did enjoy going out with them from time to time, I enjoyed staying at home by myself. I was very busy in school with theater, chorus, band, and various clubs so I didn’t get to be home very often. I was quite happy at home while I was there and I wasn’t screaming for any type of independence or freedom. In PA you could get your Driver’s Permit when you turned 16. You had to take a test for the permit and pass. Once you had your permit you could practice driving with a licensed driver over the age of 18 in the front seat. Once you had sufficiently practiced you could take your driver’s test. The permit would expire in 3 years and so would your physical exam. If you hadn’t passed the driving portion of the test before your permit expired, you would need to get another physical and take the permit test again. At least those were the rules in 1995, some of the details have changed since then.

When I turned 16 my parents didn’t say anything to me about getting my license and I didn’t say anything to them. My younger sister on the other hand (who was a year younger than me and dying to get her license) had been told she wasn’t permitted to apply for her permit/license until she was 18 due to her grades. I also had practical reasons for not getting a license. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting my own car. I knew that we had only one car and both of my parents worked. I knew that I didn’t have a job, didn’t want a job, and didn’t have time for a job with all of my extra curricular activities therefore I didn’t have the money to pay for a car, insurance, or even gas. I also knew that because of my busy schedule, my curfew, and the boring town that we lived in…I really wouldn’t be going out much anyway. I didn’t make a decision not to get my license, I just simply decided that there wasn’t any rush to get it. Only two weeks after turning 16 I acquired a boyfriend who had a license, a job, and his own car. He also happened to be involved in theater/chorus/band as well, so he began driving me everywhere.

I was signed up for Driver’s Ed because completing the class would get you a discount on your insurance. I had yet to take my permit test. Driver’s Ed didn’t help me at all. The class was taught by a history teacher that I’d had three different years since Middle School. He was a nice man, but one of my least favorites as far as teaching was concerned. He never really taught anything and his big thing was “study guides”. He would give us photo copied study guides in his very poor barely legible handwriting and had us fill in the blanks from our text books during class. In the three different years I had him as a teacher I don’t recall him ever saying anything to us other than telling us to keep quiet during our study guide time or telling us what page to turn to. Luckily I was good at history and managed to do fine as long as I could read his handwriting. Driver’s Ed was no different. We were given study guides to go along with the Driver’s book. We were also lucky enough to watch some outdated films on anti-lock breaks and drunk driving. We never once got into a car. We didn’t have one of those fancy student driving cars where you got to drive around the parking lot while your teacher keeps slamming on his extra set of breaks. Nope. Just, “here’s some questions to study for the permit test (most everyone already had their permit), here’s how breaks work in the rain, don’t drink and drive…the end”.

Above: 18 year old me, a happy passenger.
(Don’t worry, we were parked otherwise I would’ve had my feet on the ground and a seatbelt on!)

After I graduated from high school and spent the summer busy sleeping in and hanging out with my boyfriend my mom felt it was time for me to get a job in the fall. I didn’t have any ID so we had to go get one at the DMV. I hadn’t studied at all for the permit test, but my mom said that I should try to take the test anyway since we were already there. You were allowed to get three answers wrong…I missed four. I failed the permit test that day, but we went back and I passed it the second time and every time since then. I started working a part time job and then eventually went to a full time job. My mom worked full time M-F 9a-5p and I was scheduled shifts all week from any time between 9:45a-9:45p.

As time went on I kept going back and renewing my permit and getting physicals. It seemed like every time I needed a new physical my doctor had moved or my insurance had changed and I had to find a new practice…again. I did some driving here and there, but for the most part we were all too busy and too tired to bother with it. I couldn’t practice driving on my own. Someone had to take me and teach me. The older I got and the longer I went without driving…the more scared I got. I wasn’t scared to begin with, that wasn’t why I had put off getting my permit, but the more time I spent in the passenger’s seat the less of a desire I had to drive. When I would drive I was absolutely terrified of hitting parked cars, or having a car come up behind me. I found reverse confusing. I hated it.

Throughout the years my mom and husband have taken turns teaching me how to drive. We go for awhile and then something always happens and we get busy, and we stop going. Then I forget how to drive again. I’m not scared of hitting parked cars anymore and a person driving behind me doesn’t bother me as much (unless they’re right on my bumper). I’m not too bad at the actual driving part now and I’m finally starting to get the hang of reverse and parking. In March I started practicing again. This time with a slightly different goal…learn to drive well enough to pass the test. If I never drive again, that’s fine, but at least I’ll have my license if I want it and I’ll have all the time in the world to get more comfortable driving. Practicing is one of the things that I’ve been doing lately when I say that I’m busy.

I still don’t have much of a desire to drive, but I feel like my daughter and I are missing out on so much being trapped in the house until her dad gets home. We can’t go to the park or Mommy and Me or MOPS or anywhere really. I’ll be 32 this September. Kids that I used to babysit have now had their licenses for years. Now I just want to get my stupid license so that I can have it already. I don’t even know if I’ll ever really use it since the idea of driving with my daughter in the car, or without someone else next to me to help me, scares me. I just want to get it over and done with even if I never drive again afterwards. This August my permit is going to expire…again. My physical will expire then too so I’ll need to get a physical…again. And guess what…my doctor’s practice shut down…again. So I’m going to need to find another doctor…again. So that I can take my permit test…again. I really don’t want to have to do all of that…again.

Today at 12:30pm I’m scheduled to take my driver’s test for the first time in 14 years. I can’t say that I’m feeling very positive about it. Last night I thought I should practice parallel parking in front of my mom’s house. There was a space between her neighbor’s car and her car. I tried 3 times and couldn’t do it all three times…and the last time I tried I hit my mom’s car (well, the cars touched…I backed into it very slowly going -5 miles an hour!). I went around the block again to come back and park and the neighbor had gotten into her car to move it away to safety (why, I didn’t hit her car?!). Let’s just say it didn’t give me a big boost of confidence. I just hope that my test goes well today and I can just pass and move on with life as a licensed driver.

Or maybe I’ll just get a chauffer.

**Updated: Nope, didn’t get it. Failed the parallel parking before getting a chance to do the rest of the test. I was way too nervous and hormonal. Oh well, I’ll try again in another 15 years (and by then Adaline should have her license and Jonathan close to getting his permit!).

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Posted on June 29, 2011, in Jenn. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wow! I can’t believe you’ve gone all these years without a drivers license. I guess I never realized how much I value having one until I read this post. I don’t know how you’ve maintained your sanity all this time. Good luck with your test. You’ll do great!



  2. My story was very similar, except since I went to school in NYC and then stayed, I had less of need to drive. Being dyslexic it was another thing I thought I could not do. I lived in NYC till I was 32 and then we moved to queens. I had my first baby and managed alright. We drove a lot and I got rides from other mom’s when we went somewhere where a car was needed. But, it bothered me I did not drive. When my son was 15 months old, I called a driving school. I had my permit but had never drived. My son was not quite 2 and I had just turned 35 when I finally got my licence. My minivan is my badge of honor, it is also my second home since we now live on Long Island, where a car is mandatory!! I also love to drive now, I also love the freedom. Good luck. You will do it, when you are ready.


  3. Not to be a downer, but think of it this way…if you have a license, you can drive if there is an emergency. I usually don’t drive when my hubby and I are going somewhere, but one night a few years ago he woke me up and had cut himself pretty badly and I had to take him to the emergency room. I know it’s gloomy, but I’m glad I had a license right then. Good luck with your test!


  4. Good luck!!! I have total faith in you! 🙂 Don’t worry about the whole parallel parking thing! I’m your age and I still can’t do it. Problem is I did have the fancy training with the car that had 2 sets of breaks, but they never taught any of us how to parallel drive. So don’t feel too bad! My fingers are crossed for you! 🙂


  5. Wow, Jenn! I kind of relate…except that I just realized I’ve had a license for 10 years now. I got it when I was 22. (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) I know a lady who is probably in her 50’s (from NY) and just got her license. So don’t feel too bad. I totally get “not needing it” I too acquired people who had licenses. Lol! It is very liberating, though. But don’t worry…you probably won’t feel like going anywhere once you get it. 🙂


  6. Hope it all goes well. I would get a lil cabin fevor—or have the best legs in town because I have to get out some =)


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