This is the one and only time I remember Miranda sitting in this stroller.
Although it was bought for her by her great grandmother before she was even born, Miranda never sat in it. It is possible I managed to push her around the block once or twice when she was a wee bitty thing (read: less than three weeks old) but I don’t remember it. What I remember is this—Miranda crying when she was put down, wanting to be carried instead. What I remembered is this—I lived to do her bidding, so I carried her. Pushing an empty stroller.
I remember going to the mall with my friends. We all arrived in our stations wagons (later SUVs), pulled out our strollers, wrestled them into submission, put the babies in said strollers and began rolling toward the mall entrance. While my friends’ babies sat contentedly in their strollers, looking around, banging on the bar, or happily gumming plastic key rings, Miranda immediately squirmed out of every restraining belt, flipped onto her knees and began reaching up to me. So I picked her up and carried her. She climbed from one arm to the other, up on my shoulders and back down, exploring me as if I were her own personal jungle gym. The only thing that rode in the stroller was my purse and the diaper bag. (It would have held any purchases I might have made, except in those years, I didn’t make purchases at the mall. All our money went to diapers and second-hand baby clothes and parenting books.) I watched the other mother’s chatting easily as they pushed their seated offspring along the covered avenues of Bellesquare and wondered vaguely why Miranda and I couldn’t do this the easy way. Then I gave a shrug, figured it counted as a better workout if I walked and carried a squirmy baby at the same time, and rushed to catch up to my friends .
Miranda never did sit in her stroller. Not as a baby, and most certainly not after she learned to walk (at 10 months. Not as I grew round with my second pregnancy. But I continued to bring the stroller with us wherever we went, pushing it ahead of me. It did an admirable job of carrying a wide assortment of things—books and boxes, hats mittens, and scarves, Miranda’s shoes and socks (no, she didn’t like those either), the diaper bag and my purse, and soggy raincoats. Miranda ignored the loyal and ever-present stroller. No matter how tired she became, she preferred to walk. When walking proved impossible, she preferred to be carried. And she was carried—in my arms, on my shoulders, and sometimes, like a sack of potatoes, flung over my left shoulder head first, giggling maniacally.
She never gave the stroller a second glance. Until, that is, one early summery day when I decided to take the new baby (Nicole, about 5 months) to the pool for the first time. I got all three of us into swimming gear. I loaded up the trusty stroller with towels and sunscreen and Goldfish crackers. I threw in the diaper bag for good measure. Then I did something daring. I decided to give the stroller another chance to do what it was put here on earth to do. I maneuvered my second little person into position. As I fit first one sweet, plump leg into place and then the second, I waited for her protest—none came. After a few more hot and frustrating minutes, I found the two ends of the essentially unused “seatbelt” and clicked them together around Nicole’s tummy, stealing myself for an earsplitting cry—none came.
I stepped back to see what was going on—and saw a perfectly contented child sitting in a stroller. I had done it! Never give up….never surrender, and all that. Almost two years into this parenting gig and I had managed what I had previously believed impossible. I basked for a moment. And in my basking, I noticed something else. I noticed my elder daughter.
Miranda was eyeing her little sister suspiciously. She had taken pretty well to the little interloper, but in this moment, she looked as if she might pull her sister bodily from the stroller. The look on her face said it all: MINE!!!
Then her better nature won out. Instead of reclaiming the oft spurned stroller, she grinned the widest grin and clambered in, plopping herself in behind her little sister. She was still grinning when I retrieved the camera from the depths of the diaper bag and snapped this shot. She grinned all the way to the park, holding onto ‘Baby Cole’ for dear life.
It was the first (and last) time, but that’s okay. I have the picture. I have the story. I have the memories. And there’s not much better than that.