I admit that I am a stroller mom. I fondly remember taking JD on epic walks when he was just weeks old. Leaves crinkled under the wheels and a stretch of blue sky seemed like forever and ever and ever. Back then, JD mostly slept and I admittedly thought about life and how I ended up in New Jersey pushing a Bugaboo with a tiny baby in it, all alone. Sometimes I would walk for hours because it was easier than being alone with JD in our one-bedroom apartment.
Because JD and I have always lived in a building with no personal garage or outside storage space, the stroller is always in my Jeep. And because it’s always there I always use it—even at this point and JD is approaching three-and-a-half years old. Thing is though, the kid is BURSTING out of it and well, kind of over it. Can I blame him?
Take yesterday, I worked from home and JD was home too. We needed a morning activity that would ensure an afternoon nap, but playing in the snow was not happening because it felt like it was 10 degrees out. I needed to return a pair of jeans at the mall, so I decided to add lunch too—seemed like it would take up a good chunk of time to have JD out of the house.
I parked and pulled out our stroller. I lifted my 32-pound child from his car seat and strapped him into the stroller. Maybe it was the bubble coat, but JD looked like a 12-year-old boy in this thing! Once inside the mall, JD immediately spotted a cart with cars, trucks and cartwheeling toy puppies zipping around.
“I wanna see,” he said. “I need to get down.”
So, I took him out of the stroller, but I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous. JD is very, very fast and sometimes he’ll take off and not look back. Like I said before, my son is a runner.
“OK, bud, but you need to be a good boy and stay close to Mommy,” I said unhooking him. “No running.”
And ya know what? JD didn’t run away. He stood at the cart watching as the toys put on a little show. Then he walked calmly next to me as we strolled to Express so I could return my jeans. Next, we walked to the other side of the mall so JD could check out the Disney Store (there’s always a cartoon playing on a big movie screen). Every few steps we stopped so JD could look at carts that displayed shiny hairpins and bright cell phone cases—and so I could decline hair extensions, hand cream and a neck massage (hahahaha -- oy!).
JD walked around the mall with me for a good hour and behaved himself the whole time. We didn’t buy anything—just window-shopped, exercised and threw many pennies into the fountain. He even stood still when we waited on line to order lunch (well I did tell him to hold the cool wrist strap that was dangling from the stroller bar.
To test this theory of not needing a stroller anymore I didn’t put JD in a cart this morning when I ran to Target to buy storm survival essentials (Mac ‘n Cheese, juice, toilet paper, rainbow fishy crackers and strawberry ice cream). I told him he was a big boy and needed to stay close to me. It was a quick trip and I dropped a few items in a basket, but gave JD the job of holding the six-pack of toilet paper. Well, this was a huge perk for my kid. How proud he was to carry this item and throw it up on the checkout counter.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the stroller and how in these last months I may have used it as a crutch, because maybe I still don’t trust myself. I know all moms are frazzled when they go out with their kids, but there have been times when, as a single mom, the stroller really came in handy. Like, at the airport when I was scared to death JD would run away and I’d have to leave my bags on the ground to chase him because there would be no one else there to help with that. Or even at the carnival this summer in a big, hot crowd. It’s scary and overwhelming to be in charge 24/7 and the stroller was like, I dunno, the dad that’s not here, or the extra hand.
I think I’m over my crutch. I can do this. So can JD. We don’t need a stroller.
Tell me, do you use a stroller with your pre-schooler? When did you ditch the stroller for good? What did you do with your stroller?