There are no two ways about it: having your own car is probably much easier than navigating public transport right now. Whatever about the wearing of masks and/or scowling at those who don't, there are no timetables to adhere to, no harried trips to the train station, no fumbling for change or a Leap card while other passengers hate you for your sheer temerity.
I should imagine parenthood is also much easier if you have a car. My partner and I are car-free people. It's the result, I like to think, of prolonged stretches living in London or New York, where good public transport eradicates the need for a car.
But now we find ourselves with a baby in tow, we're realising that scooting on or off trains, buses, taxis and trams isn't as easy as it once was. If there are two buggies or a wheelchair already in situ on Dublin Bus, you may wait for the next one. Travelling with Bus Eireann? Hope you know how to fold that Bugaboo. Train journeys are only bearable if you have a seat in the right section. If the baby is screeching her head off, public transport can be a bit… awkward.
There's no denying it. We will both have to learn to drive... again!
Strangely, B and I can already drive. B didn't apply for his full licence as he was too busy out gallivanting across the globe and living his life. I, meanwhile, have failed the driving test multiple times.
I have a tumultuous relationship with driving. My experience definitely makes me a child of the 90s. I first learned to drive on a farm in Meath. I was about 14 and a friend had an old banger that we used to drive around the fields, while her younger siblings screamed and rattled around in the back.
A year later, my father took me to Ballyfermot, where I spent many a Sunday doing three-point turns in deserted industrial estates. It being the 90s, it was possible to pootle about on a second provisional licence and still legally drive as an unaccompanied driver, which is exactly what I did. From family trips to Donegal to college commutes to Maynooth, I did them all, and not a bother on me.
The time then came to make it all official. It's one of my greatest flaws that I am the sort of person who buckles in any sort of 'test' scenario. Stick me in an exam hall or job interview and watch me fall apart at the seams. And so it went with the driving test(s).
The first time I did it in my teens, I cried before the inspector even examined the car. The second time, I drove right instead of left. Another time, I panicked and drove out into the path of an incoming bus, causing the tester to pull the handbrake and look at me like I was deranged. A fairly understandable reaction, given the circumstances.
I gave up the ghost for a while, but I'm beginning to realise that with a child in the mix, I will have to conquer this, and soon. I will have to master this one part of adulting: safe, responsible, legal driving.
I long to be able to bundle my daughter into a car seat and drive her to swimming lessons, instead of lugging our stuff on a 40-minute walk. I'd love to visit the sea without taking two types of public transport there. I envy other parents' freedom to take off around the country with their kids and full, clean licence in tow. I'd love to put four-hour bus journeys with a very young child, and all the madness therein, behind me.
As my daughter gets older, the challenges of car-free parenting are likely to mount. What about school or drives to play dates? What if we end up in the suburbs, where car culture is largely inescapable? Wanting a car is not really the done thing to admit to - most parents seem to like the sound a car-free lifestyle - but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like the option once in a while.
Of course, my sleep-deprived and mammy-brained self has to pass the theory test first. I know from hard-bitten experience that winging it, and figuring that common sense will pull you through, won't pass muster.
It'll take time to go from the 46A to my own car. It'll be a laborious and elaborate process. Tedious, probably. But then, what part of adulting isn't?