We notice the first of a lot of things as our kids grow up—the first time they grasp our finger, the first time they sleep in their crib, the first tooth they lose. The moment is usually marked in some way so we don’t forget. But the last time a thing happens in childhood….well, we miss it. Because we don’t know it’s the last time.
I can remember when we took our first trip in almost 11 years that didn’t involve a stroller. When for the first time since child rearing began for us in 1999, everyone in our group could feed, dress, wipe, and cart themselves around.
I know, RIGHT?
Our littlest daughter had gone from being a toddler to being a kid, in a blur, of course. Between the ages of 3 1/2-4 1/2, each trip saw the removal of a ‘baby item’ from her packing list. No more diapers, or baby monitor, or binky, or potty seat, toddler utensils, or sippy cups. We even stopped worrying about a change of clothes.
And then, the stroller.
As I packed the car for the trip, I pulled it out and thought, `I don’t think we’ll need the stroller.’ At first, it was just a space necessity. But as I tucked it into a spot in the garage I thought, `Huh, we haven’t used it in a while. Maybe we’re done with it.’
It was a bit of a shock as I stood in the garage. Bittersweet, really. No stroller meant there weren’t any babies or toddlers at our house. It meant that the tiny sweet humans who little bottoms had occupied that stroller seat for so many years were, well, growing up. It was the end of an era.
Oh, the places we had gone with a stroller in those 11 years—walks around the neighborhood, vacations to see family, the beach, the mountains, all things Disney, museums, zoos. Miles and miles and miles. Even trips to the grocery store were made easier (for everyone) by having a familiar place to contain and transport babies. And then there were the millions of other things our stroller had held besides tiny tykes—shopping bags/water bottles/the entire family’s coats shoved in the little basket underneath or piled high on the top. There were certainly outings where a little one used it much less than our family’s stuff did.
MAYBE WE’RE DONE WITH IT.
Oh, I’m not quite ready to give that stroller away yet, but it’s not because anyone here needs it.
Well, maybe I need it. Not so much to mourn the loss of babyhood, but as a monument to what has transpired in our lives. Eleven years is a long time to need one piece of gear. And, really, negotiating any outing without a stroller is much easier. I think of all the doors, stairs, small spaces, and crowds that have been frustrating with a stroller.
But I’d have to think for a minute to pinpoint exactly when my last child rode in the stroller.
And I wish I had known. I would have thanked the stroller properly, and taken a picture.
So I wouldn’t forget.