As a mother of toddlers, I used to relish the packing required for every trip: diaper bags, extra outfits, sandwiches cut into pieces and tucked inside plastic boxes, sunscreen, hats, sippy cups and stashes of emergency pacifiers. I loved my double stroller and its many compartments, including a Velcro tuckaway for my car keys and a cup holder for my coffee. It was an aspiring-to-be-organized mother’s dream, perfect for a trip to the zoo or museum, the playground or a splash pad. Once that stroller was filled, we were ready to go. It was as though we had packed up a spacecraft and could sustain ourselves for weeks on the provisions. I liked to roll the stroller along and occasionally duck down and murmur to my children. See the elephant? Want to get out and go on the slide?
Now my oldest toddler is a muscular five year old, a little boy with rubber-soled sandals wrapped around his ever-moving feet. His little sister trails behind like a puppy. Trips to the zoo involve a lot of exercise on everyone’s part – including my vocal cords, as I constantly call, Wait for me! Stay where I can see you! You can understand why this turn of events left me longing for my stroller, with its compartments that held every item in place, including my children. I wanted to feel as though I could push my little world before me. I had serious stroller nostalgia.
And so, last week, I attempted to bring back the stroller. I broke into a sweat as I hauled it from the basement, but that was just a hint of what was to come. What I hadn’t planned on, in my daydreaming about the compartments and the quietly contained children, was the sheer weight of the stroller with two kids inside and the way I’d have to bend my body to a nearly perpendicular position in order to drive that stroller around the zoo. Two hills later, my stroller nostalgia was gone. Instead, as I gulped the ice water from the water bottle conveniently stored in the cup holder before me, I started fantasizing about a really great backpack, with lots of zippered pockets. I know I’ll need those pockets for all the things I now require to take my children to the zoo, including the throat lozenges I’ll want after calling for them to wait up.