When I was pregnant with my firstborn, my parents bought us what ended up being one of the most useful things off of our registry: a travel set that comprised a stroller, an infant car seat, and the base to secure the car seat into the car. We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or a girl, so we went with the elephant pattern, which I still think is adorable. (We also have an elephant-patterned pack n play, and had a matching bouncer.) (Because we are suckers.)
A stroller is a big piece of equipment, and we live in a smallish apartment with a front door that is literally on the street. We don’t have storage space for things like bikes and strollers, but we quickly realized that the best place to keep it would be in the trunk of the car that most often transported the baby—my car. This way if we were out at the store and needed the stroller we’d have it, and if we were leaving home for a walk the car would be parked right outside and easy to get to.
When he (because surprise! it’s a boy!) was born I was driving a green Ford Taurus with gray leather seats that felt like a car for someone older than me, but it had a sunroof and one of those combination panels in the driver’s side door to unlock the car if you didn’t have your key with you, and I liked both those features. It also had big backseats to fit a car seat, and a big trunk for the stroller and whatever else we could wedge around the stroller.
A little over a year later, our baby had graduated to a bigger car seat, while his infant car seat sat in storage waiting for his eventual sister. I was driving home (alone, luckily) one day when I smelled smoke and then I saw smoke and so I pulled over and the smoke didn’t go away and as it got worse I realized something was really wrong, so I got my purse from the front seat and I got the stroller from the trunk and I opened the back door and tried to get the new, convertible car seat out but Drew had put it in and I wasn’t sure how to unlatch it, and I ended up abandoning it in the car. By the time a stranger pulled over there were flames coming from under the hood and the fire department was on the way, and I remember this man grabbing the stroller with my purse and some other stuff from the trunk sitting on it and saying, “We should move further away,” and pulling everything down the road away from the car. The car burned down to the frame, the fire department put out the flames before they crept into the bushes off the road, and it ended up being really the best ending possible to a story that begins, “One afternoon, my car spontaneously combusted.”
I got a new car and moved the stroller into that trunk. And there’s it’s stayed, taking up most of the usable space, forcing me to load groceries and Target bags and laundry and recycling and everything into the front seat or squished around the kids in the backseat. (There are two kids by this point in the story.) Most days it feels like this:
But the thing is, the second kid isn’t even little anymore, and she doesn’t want to ride in anything—a stroller, a grocery cart, whatever. She wants to walk. Or as she says, “Me do it!” And the big one is the size of a small pony so it’s not like he even really fits in the stroller. It’s just been taking up space lately, which is a valuable resource that we’re rapidly depleting as it is.
So this weekend, my parents were here, and we took advantage of them and their big truck by giving them a lot of kid stuff that’s been outgrown or discarded: toys that don’t get played with, and the stroller no one will use. It was a weirdly emotional moment, loading it into the back of their truck. I know someone else will be able to use it, but we just used it so much over the last five years. It’s a monumentally empty space now…which is good, because we need the empty space to grow into.
As God intended…filled only with LaCroix and sand:
Next on the list: the changing table.