Monday, April 4, 2016

Security Stroller

Letting go of My Security Stroller
by Julia M.L. Whitehead
Dec. 2015

I’m the girl pushing the empty stroller. The first time it happened. I was on my way in to the elementary school to volunteer. My two-year-old wanted desperately to activate the handicap door, so I unbuckled him. He reached up and pressed it with much satisfaction, then continued through the entryway on his own two feet. I, of course, followed him through the hallways, empty stroller in tow.
            I’ve since found myself “empty strollered” at the children’s’ museum, the library, and multiple times at the neighborhood park. Why do I continue to cart my stroller around when my pre-school age son prefers to walk? Obviously the ability to contain a child at a moment’s notice proves very helpful in many circumstances. Additionally, their little legs don’t always carry them the speed or the distance Mom needs to go. Ultimately, however, I’m afraid the real reason I keep bring the stroller along is that I personally don’t want to let it go! It is my security stroller.
            Before having children, I taught at a school where the stroller Moms would linger in the lobby chatting long after the ringing of the morning bell. Although it was somewhat of a distraction/ barricade for us teachers, I was attracted to the idea of someday taking a similar social stroll each morning. Especially during the brisk autumn weather, I gazed through my confining classroom windows to those stroller moms who seemed refreshingly free.
            When I did finally join that coveted club, I reveled in the liberating midmorning walks. In my youth I hadn’t realized that the price of that perceived freedom would include sleepless nights, and a myriad of other physical discomforts. But I tried to take those hang-ups all in stride. I was a stroller Mom. During one of my morning walks, my exuberance even inspired the following ditty:

No snow
Let’s go
Been trapped all winter long!

The time of year
To get in gear
And sing our stroller song.

Burn fat
Chit chat
We simply can’t go wrong.

Our little stroller song!

            When not striding solo, I developed dear relationships with neighbors as we pushed our luxury handcarts up and down local pathways. Over sippy cup drinks and pretzels we vocally sorted out the issues in our heads, and did our bodies an energizing favor. On days I was alone, I sometimes even broke out the roller blades! Multiple parks lie within reasonable distance, which provided the perfect backdrop for making outdoor mothering memories.
            Although a stroller can prove bulky in elevators or crowded stores, the perks can’t be overlooked. Gentlemen hold the door for you. Grandmas comment on your adorable bundle. You have the ability to stow all the baby gear while smoothly navigating new surroundings. Given these and other experiences, “Stroller Mom” has seeped into my identity in a very integral way.
Five kids and many flat tires later, my husband asked me if we could possibly get rid of one of the FIVE strollers taking up space in the garage. I quickly explained to him that the single jogger is necessary for trekking across grassy soccer fields. The fully reclining stroller does the trick for daylong trips when on-the-go naps are needed. The bike trailer is perfect for bad weather because it includes a rain flap. And we all know the umbrella must stay in the car AT ALL TIMES for everyday outings.  To appease my hoard cautious husband, I did finally find a trusted owner for the double jogger, and bid it a fond farewell.
            I have come to terms with the fact that my childbearing years are through. It is okay that diaper changes and breastfeeding are soon to be only memories. The crib has been taken down. But for some reason, I think the hardest thing to let go will be the stroller.
            I was ecstatic recently at the chance to attend a festive craft show without my youngest son.  But when I arrived at the non-kid-friendly event, I automatically popped open my umbrella stroller. I told my Mom and sister that the stroller would be helpful in carrying coats and bags, and it was!  But we all know something inside me just needed to push it around. Baby or not, it is my security stroller.

Question: What baby possession was/ will be the hardest for you to part with?

Challenge: Stroller or not, this week- take a walk!