Regina Mustafa: It's time to give families a break — and maybe a ride

When I handed over the keys to my ice-blue Chevy Beretta many years ago, I knew I was making a difficult yet right decision. A diagnosis of Stargardt's Disease (juvenile macular degeneration) meant I would lose all central vision within years and be considered legally blind.

I could no longer put others on the road in danger, so I bid adieu to the streets of Philadelphia.

Fast-forward to life in Rochester: married, with two kids.

If you think not being able to drive must be frustrating, imagine it with two young children. In Rochester, we live in a society that presumes two things: Parents or guardians of young children can drive, and both have cars. If you don't fit this mold, our public transportation system doesn't make it easier.

At the same time, it seems society is turning up the heat on extracurricular activities and needed rides.


The array of activities includes music lessons, sports, swim classes, cheerleading, dance and the list goes on. Parents can feel quite out of place if their child is not enrolled in at least one such activity.

As a result, a kettle of hot, steaming guilt rises if not engaging in multiple soccer-mom-making endeavors. While we are certainly blessed to have such skill-building options for our children to enjoy and reap countless benefits, one should not feel remorse for not partaking, whether the reason is mobility or financial.

I imagine single-parent homes also face the strains of not having the benefit of a second driver.

In my house, our comings and goings depend primarily on my husband's work schedule. The local bus route runs so infrequently that it's a joke. I love a good taxi ride but would need a separate income to fund them.

All other transportation options are either too infrequent, too expensive or not an option since I'd have two kids along for the ride.

Just attending a Destination Medical Center planning meeting to express the urgent need for more bus routes and times more than a year ago was a challenge. I chuckle with the fond memory of aligning the planets for rides that evening while my husband was on bedtime duty with the kids.

I have become such an expert on coordinating rides that I could easily work for NASA and orchestrate space shuttle launches, if we have any more.

Yet, tough decisions are required. We recently moved to be within walking distance of my son's elementary school, but farther from my daughter's preschool. I could no longer walk her there and pick her up, so we withdrew her from the preschool due to the transportation issue.


And in case you are wondering, we don't have grandparents nearby to aid in school pickups and trips to martial arts practice, and the majority of my friends are busy chauffeuring their own kids about town.

My story is hardly unique. Two co-workers also cannot drive due to physical limitations, and we often share tales of soliciting rides and coordinating sparse bus schedules. We agree: Transportation change cannot come fast enough.

Turning down the heat on the teapot of extracurricular expectations also would suit me quite nicely.

Society, please give me a break — or a ride.

Regina Mustafa, of Rochester, is a member of the Post-Bulletin Community Editorial Advisory Board.

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