When I first started working as a teenager my commute to work was 8 minutes in traffic. As I moved around my hometown, my commute grew to 15 minutes, then 20, then 25 – all completely manageable and even luxurious by today’s standards.

Eleven years ago I moved to my current town and my commute to work has ranged from the 1-1/2 hours (minimum) it was a few years ago to the mere 45 minutes that it is now. My husband also commutes to work. His average commute time is right around one hour each way. On a really, really good day he can get to or from work in 30-40 minutes. However, there has been any number of days where it has taken him up to three hours to get one way.

At 45 minutes I consider myself relatively lucky for this area, but I’ve never completely adjusted to the idea of commuting. Yet, compared to the growing number of workers participating in Extreme Commuting, our commutes are a cakewalk. That realization doesn’t make it any easier to accept or appreciate the long hours spent in the car. I used to be person who loved to throw a bag in the car and hit the road on the weekend. No more. These days when the weekend comes, I don’t want to leave my driveway if I don’t have to do so. (Sometimes the thought of a trip to the grocery store five minutes away seems monumental.)

In putting together this post, I ran across a very informative article in The Washington Post that cited a litany of ill effects from commuting, many of which I recognized from personal experience. The part of the article that struck me most, however, was this sentence: “Long solo commutes are especially tough on women, Novaco said his research found. Women, he said, generally “had more responsibility for getting family up and running and were significantly more likely to report being rushed to get to work.” My life, in a nutshell.

Prior to the arrival of our daughter, Little M, my husband and I generally managed to shrug off, or at least learn to deal with, the physical, emotional, and daily life effects of commuting. However, with the entrance of Little M, that has changed considerably. It’s one thing to realize your garden is a mess because you don’t have time to weed, its an entirely different thing to realize your child is growing up way too quickly and you are missing it because your life is spent in the car.