Our family is almost ready to say goodbye to our stroller, and looking back, it might be my most beloved piece of baby gear (after my DSLR camera perhaps). Our orange BabyJogger CityMini has served us well, hauling two girls around the neighborhood and around the world.
In the last year, it hasn’t seen much use, of course. Mostly because of the pandemic and not really going anywhere. If we walked around the neighborhood together as a family, the girls could motor on their own legs or ride their bikes or scooters. Having a nine-year-old and almost five-year-old negates the need for a stroller, pandemic or not.
I can feel sentimental about most anything, especially things relating to my girls. Folding onesies into a box for donating or passing down, dropping off the giant, loud, plastic toys and other accoutrements of toddler life, and sorting through board books all make me feel my feelings. How I feel about my daughters growing up. How I feel about my role as mother shifting, stretching and contracting somehow simultaneously. How I feel about time passing in general.
I don’t remember feeling as sad when we sold our crib a couple years ago or when we have taken car seats in for recycling. Somehow the thought of giving up our stroller feels more final, perhaps because a family without a stroller is definitely a family without a “little” kid.
In summer 2011, I was pregnant and full of excitement for what was to come. A list maker, I reveled in the planning, making sure we had just what we needed. (Frankly I also got plenty of things we didn’t end up needing.) My husband humored my preparations for the most part, but he seemed most interested in the choice of stroller, knowing he would be using it too.
I can still picture the scene: all six feet, one inch of him pushing around every stroller on display in Babies R Us that summer–trying to pick the right one that would be tall enough for him to use without stooping but not so tall that it wouldn’t work for me. Our final choice was ideal in its height, and its easy one-hand fold, small storage footprint and smooth-rolling wheels that could veer off a path really sold us. After showrooming in the store, I’m pretty sure we bought it online (I recognize my role in the decline of brick-and-mortar retailers). We never regretted our selection, and the single stroller served our needs well across our first decade of parenting.
In addition to the miles it has seen around Baton Rouge–at parks, the zoo, the mall and more–we also took the stroller to Berlin, Chicago, Washington, DC, Dollywood, and twice to Minneapolis, including our six-month sabbatical in early 2018. The stroller was sadly damaged by an airline, which wouldn’t replace it or its frame (it was bent by some kind of mechanical luggage sorting equipment–we bought a travel bag for it after that trip). Although the damage gave the stroller a tendency to veer to the right, we kept it rolling.
Pushing a stroller feels symbolic of new motherhood, but it was also more than that for me. As a practical matter, the stroller provided space to haul stuff in addition to children. I loved having a touch-point for shopping bags, library books, drinks, toys, and snacks, not to mention the diaper bag itself. And although never ideal, stroller naps were a thing of beauty. When we do get to resume our busy lifestyle again post-pandemic, I expect I’ll feel a little naked at first without a stroller to push. But I’ll adapt as I always do.
Are you as sentimental as I am about letting go of the trappings of babyhood? What’s been your favorite piece of baby gear?