The double stroller inevitably found itself under scrutiny again.
In the fervor of another garage clean-up, my husband set his sights on the folded 12-wheeler idling in a cluttered corner. It’s been unused for at least a dozen years.
“Are you ready to give it away yet?” he asked.
I made a noncommittal sound, avoiding a direct answer. We’ve had this discussion before. I’ve let go of every other physical reminder of the kids’ younger years -- cribs, high chairs, bassinets, Pack ‘n Plays -- that mammoth mountain of stuff that takes over your house when you have a baby.
But I have irrationally held on to this artifact well into my kids’ teen years. It passes the Marie Kondo test: The thought of it still sparks joy. This is the gadget that allowed me to leave the house on my own with a baby and toddler. It was a symbol of my limited freedom at a time when getting out of the house was supremely difficult. It carried the stories of our small adventures, when I could navigate the streets with more confidence than I was navigating challenges inside the home. It transported us through airports, malls, zoos and parks.
The babies sat in that stroller the first time they saw a polar bear. When we shopped for tiny shoes they quickly outgrew. They took naps, licked ice cream cones and rode countless elevators in that contraption that took up half the space in my trunk. We never used the other parenting paraphernalia much; they never slept in cribs or played in playpens. But we put hundreds of miles on that stroller.
I suggested to my husband that perhaps we needed to hang on to it for when my brother and sister-in-law visit with their daughters, an infant and a preschooler. He seemed skeptical, shrugged and moved on. But the guilt of my hoarding got to me, so I wisely turned to the internet as a way to punish myself.
I asked on Twitter if I was wrong in wanting to keep the stroller. The wisdom of the Twitterverse confirmed that I was indeed in the wrong. One person helpfully suggested that perhaps I could donate it to the four children who had been recently rescued from a burning St. Louis apartment. Duly shamed, I agreed this would be a far better use than having it collect dust.
I reached out to alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, who had posted a list of the children’s needs. We agreed to meet the next day, so I could hand this beloved vehicle over.
This meant I needed to get rid of the accumulated dust, so I started digging through the leftovers that had survived the garage purge. But I couldn’t find the stroller. I texted my husband at work.
He directed me to a small pile, where I made a startling discovery: This wasn’t the heavy-duty Graco DuoGlider I remembered. That was our luxury stroller -- which cost a fraction of what would be considered luxe by today’s standards. Nowadays, a high-end Bugaboo double stroller will set you back more than $2,000.
My husband’s first car, a 1972 Mercury Marquis, cost $600.
No, what I found wasn’t our “fancy” double stroller. It was the cheaper Kolcraft umbrella double. Apparently, I had agreed to give the behemoth away a few years ago.
You might be getting older when you can’t even keep track of your precious memorabilia.
Well, this durable riding machine was more practical anyway, I thought. It was lighter and took up less space. I started hosing it down and realized one seat was covered in a blue stain where a pen must have exploded or marker leaked. The overhead canopy on one side was missing. I unearthed a mangled plastic sippy cup from the storage bag behind the seat. It contained a petrified liquid of unknown origin.
There was no way I could donate this beat-up jalopy. I texted Ingrassia and explained that I hadn’t been aware of the current condition of the stroller when I offered it. She said not to worry: A generous person offered to buy the family a new double stroller that same day.
God bless Good Samaritans.
The Kolcraft double stroller, now cleaned up, has been folded back into its spot in the corner.
It’s ready for my nieces whenever they visit.