Monday, August 13, 2012

Stroller Pains

I left it, all dusty and alone, with bags of used clothes piled on its seat and tray. No one was there to receive it, and no one came out to the loading area despite the loud click when I unfolded it and the rattle of its wheels against the pavement as I set it down. Ah, well...someone will find it, I thought as I rolled it out of the sun and locked its wheels, careful not to let it touch the miscellaneous things around it. (I didn't know where they'd been.)

Then I got in my air-conditioned van, very slowly drove away, and abandoned it there with all that other stuff strangers no longer want or use at the back of a charity thrift store. I had been so impatient to get rid of it, but as I glanced back in my side mirror, I felt a sudden, painful constriction in my chest.

I turned the corner, and a panicky voice began to plead, Go back for it! What are you doing? What were you thinking? Don't leave it with all that junk. I breathed deeply and tried to let go, but the voice took on a tone of logic, No one's going to want it, anyway. It's too old and faded and it has that orange crayon melted in the pocket. Yes, true. I had taken great care to vacuum it out and wipe it down, but the orange crayon remained as well as some dust I hadn't noticed on its frame. There, then, said the voice of sentiment, go and get it before anyone finds it and tell the thrift store you changed your mind. All four of your babies rode in that stroller, every single one of it for the memories.

I was already on the street and going through a light, but even as I made my way to pick up my two oldest from school, the lump in my throat was growing along with an urge to turn back. Those tall, skinny kids who were about to be dismissed from class had once been tiny little things, riding in that blue and yellow stroller. And then their two siblings had occupied it after them. All of them had snacked in it, slept in it, thrown tantrums in it and gone for long strolls on city streets, in nature or shopping centers in it. All of them had been nestled in the crook of my left arm many times as I pushed their empty stroller around one-handed.

I thought back on all the baby-rearing history and adventures as I inched through car line at my kids' school. I couldn't take the remorse anymore. I needed support and pragmatism, so I called my Man up.

"Honey, I dropped off the stroller today," I said. "Do you want me to go back and get it?"


I swallowed several times before saying carefully and tearfully, "Because all four of our babies rode in that stroller..."

There was a pause and then a long chuckle and a gentle reproof, "Silly, we don't need it anymore. Let somebody else get use out of it. It's fine."

Would somebody else get use out of it, though? Would they sense all the residual love clinging to its fabric and honor that despite its appearance? Or would they cruelly beat it with sticks for being so used and sorry-looking? Surely I had made a mistake in offering it up to the great unknown.

"We could get a lap dog and push it around in it."

"NO. I'm not doing that."

I didn't even mention how my sister had used hers to push around shopping bags on Black Friday. Maybe I could have used it for Christmas shopping, too, with an attached disclaimer that read, "No, I didn't forget my baby. This stroller is retired and hauls merchandise for a hobby."

"We should have had more kids," I said, jokingly.

He replied very seriously, "No, we shouldn't have."

As I hung up I felt better, still shaky but fortified. Then my older kids got in the car, and with one look at their sweet faces, the tears came back. Berto watched me sniffling for a while in silence and then asked, "Mama, why are you crying? Is it the paper again?"

My boy knows me too well and my propensity for crying at news stories. I tried several times to tell him what was wrong but faltered on the words. When I finally spilled it out, his response was much like his father's.

"Oh, Mama..."

Silly woman.

But I still wish I had saved our stroller.


  1. You made me cry...

    1. I'm still sad about it. I just did not expect to feel so bad about it. And I'm still struggling with the urge to run back and get our stroller, even if I have to buy it back.

    2. Hillary, you did the right thing! Just because you got rid of the stroller you have not gotten rid of all the memories that went along with it, AND just remember that although it is still taking up a space in your heart it is no longer taking up a space in your van, your backyard, your living room, your laundry room, your storage space. . . ; ) (Camille)

  2. I felt just this way when we finally let our Red Radio Flyer with the Castenoga Top.

    So very sad, it had been through three babies.

    So sad.

    1. We have a Red Radio Flyer that Santa brought one year. I guess one day it'll say good-bye too....oh, man.

      My husband did not understand at all, but I'm glad my fellow moms do.

  3. Thanks for making your mother cry; now I have to deal with HER memories.

    1. I wish I was there to hug her, and then we could watch Polar Express together and really have a good cry for the "bell" - which I'm certain we both still hear clearly. Tell Mama Darlin' I love her!

  4. Thanks for making me cry there, Hillary. I'm not even supposed to be reading, I'm meant to be going to bed; and I haven't even finished having children yet.

    1. May your family be blessed always as it continues to grow! I very much enjoy all the sweet little moments of life you capture in your blog; it reminds me to enjoy my own moments with my husband and children. I cried a good deal over that stroller, even a few days after the fact, so I'm honored to have the company of other moms who understand.


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