Things You Never Thought You’d Hear Yourself Say: A Stroller Love Story

I’ve had one thing on my mind lately.

Strollers.

It all started back before I had even picked out a man I might want to make babies with. I had loads of opinions about kids, and fantasies about how I would do it aaaaall different. One of the many precepts I never even realized I functioned under was No Stroller.

I’m from a carryin’ family, and I’d make a carryin’ family. It’s not that I thought anything was particularly wrong with strollers, just that they were surely hopelessly annoying, whereas a backpack is easy, and makes you stronger.

Everything was going fine, I had my one year old still packing around in a good quality frame pack, up and down the steep hills of our (previous) Alaskan hometown. I loved carrying her, and she loved looking out at the world from that tiptop height.

Then I got pregnant again.

I kept up with the backpack until I was about five months along. What with thirty pounds on my back, and twenty up front, my back was killing me. I could hardly breath. I finally risked all reputation by salvaging a friend’s old jogging stroller.

It wasn’t all that great, since the Toddler had just learned to walk good, and wanted plenty of practice. I mostly ended up pushing an empty stroller, and trying to hold a wily little hand at the same time.

Then we moved to New Orleans, I eventually popped the Babe, and finally in November the ridiculously brutal heat subsided. I started walking. A lot. I’ve always loved walking. Our Cordova home has lots of National Geographic quality hiking available, which I also love, but almost no flat walk anywhere to be found. Here in New Orleans, it’s heaven for the classic Stroll. Gorgeous old neighborhoods, quiet side streets, nary a hill in sight, and since November anyway, plenty of perfect weather days for a lovely walk.

The Toddler has come around to riding in a stroller, and in fact, once we’ve broken the hellish surface tension of our house, walking together, with her in the stroller, is one of the easiest, most relaxingly pleasant things we do. We walk for two or three miles at least once a week, and probably a mile most other days. And at first of course, I adored carrying (“wearing”) the Babe.

But he’s growd up. To a full 17.5 pounds. He’s one solid chunk o’ baby butter. And while his folds and pudges are great for kissing and munching, carrying them for several hours of every day finally started to get old.

When my MIL** was here months ago, she pestered me about didn’t I want a good double stroller? I can be very stubborn, and if I feel even slightly coerced, or imagine I might be coerced, I go into instant heel digging mode. No, I said. Not at all. I carried the Toddler happily till she was a year and a half old, and even then only stopped because I was pregnant. By the time the Babe was a year and a half, Toddler’ed be three and a half and be perfectly capable of walking on her own two legs. Thank you very much.

(**I ought to note here that I actually get along great with my MIL. We are so much alike in so many ways, and mostly that makes us get along well, because we understand each other. But sometimes, our stubbornnesses butt heads. Particularly on the issues of “stuff” and TV.)

But lately, like the last month or so, I’ve really started to feel his weight. For one thing, I stupidly left our good frame backpack in Cordova, thinking I wouldn’t need it till next year. For another, I had neglected to realize the difference this little factoid makes– I’m still pushing a stroller. I mean, it’s not like I get to be stroller-free when I carry him. Pushing a stroller is kind of annoying (though not as much here in this dead-flat land), but pushing a stroller and hefting 17.5 pounds around on your front (he’s still too little really for the back carry in the Ergo) is very tiring. I also came the realization that the Toddler rides in the stroller not because she’s not capable of walking. She walks perfectly well, and is capable of plenty of speed, if she so desires. But she doesn’t often desire. The world is full of far too many interesting things to keep up any kind of speed. And I doubt that will change in the next year and a half, I hope it doesn’t! That’s what makes kids so special and wonderful to be with. (Though that doesn’t mean I with my long, grown up legs don’t need to get some real excersize! We try to balance both needs.)

So. Boy am I a wordy one! This all comes back to me making the hard won realization that in fact I do want a double stroller. And the way I function is like so: dig my heels in like crazy, and then suddenly run like hell to the other side. When I decided I did indeed want a double stroller I wanted one right now, goddamn it. Two weeks of fruitlessly watching Craigslist had me in a frenzy. I finally made the trek to Toys R Us. But strangely, for a city with the most fucked sidewalks you can imagine, they didn’t have a big wheeled double jogging stroller. Their only doubles were wimpy, and not at all what I wanted.

Back home I went straight to the computer, found the stroller I wanted on joggingstrollers.com, then found one (new) on Ebay for $200 and bought it. Three days later (wow, it really works like that when you live in the contiguous United States!) my new favorite thing arrived on our front porch. And I am in love all over again.

It’s an InSTEP Run Double Jogging Stroller, and I don’t want to make an advertisement for it, but I do have to say that considering that most of the other double joggers cost a full twice as much (or more!), I am impressed with the quality of construction. Maybe it’ll all go kaplooey in a month, but it sure looks durable to me. I wonder what makes the others worth twice as much? Is it just brand names? This one did have a lot fewer bells and whistles (which I prefer myself) but are a few extra pockets and straps really worth $200 extra?

Anyway, I am quite happy with this particular stroller. The wheels take our bomb scene streets beautifully and it rides like a dream. It’s not full of a zillion pockets, but it’s got one huge shelf underneath, plenty big for a giant load of groceries. As far as having a double, I’m elated. I do have to keep reminding myself though to straighten out my mama-hunch posture. It feels so weird to walk upright. Like, I have to use all these different muscles and I can’t breath properly. I’m sure I’ll work it out.

And now, the sun has come back out through last night’s rain clouds, the temperature is rising to perfecto, and it’s time to take a walk!

2 thoughts on “Things You Never Thought You’d Hear Yourself Say: A Stroller Love Story

  1. did you know they let you check those big mamas on the airplane at the gate, just like the lithe little umbrella strollers? Just in case you wondered, cause I know I did.

  2. I used (and still have) a double Burley bike trailer for my girls. Converting it to a stroller with the handle was easy and then I could put in all three. Two in the seats and one in the package area was heavy but doable. I was very happy when Oldest Daughter learned to ride a bike!

    As a bike trailer, it was perfect. Roomy, safe (full harness seatbelts and room for kid helmets) and the storage compartment was big enough for bags of groceries, etc. For many years, I biked down to our community garden plot with shovels, garden forks, etc.

    Oldest Daughter is now in college and Youngest Child is riding his own bike now but the trailer is folded up and hanging on the garage wall for the next trip to the garden center or the Sheep and Wool Festival or even the State Fair. Someday – who knows – grandchildren?

    Liking what I’ve been reading so far from the other end of the Mississippi!

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