By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT
It seems like such a little thing. The double stroller for my children, 3-year old twins, is sitting in the basement taking up valuable space, but I just don’t know what to do with it. It has been in our family for over three years now and somehow shoving it in the garage doesn’t seem a just ending for this device that has been with us for so long. It used to live in the back of our Outback and was there when we needed it. It has been to Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida and even Ecuador with us, not too mention the mall, the park and hundreds of other places.
I can remember shopping for double strollers, still shocked that we were having two babies instead of one. When we registered for items, I went along with my wife, but I deferred to her most of the time; I just got to use the UPC gun which they developed solely to get us fathers involved. But when it came to a stroller, I felt like I wanted a much bigger input into our final purchase and became more actively involved. I remember checking ours out, comparing it to other double strollers, calculating their strengths and weaknesses in order to figure out the best one to buy. I even remember buying this one because I actually had to do it myself since my wife was on bed rest at the time. I don’t know how many times I called her from the Buy Buy Baby in Manhattan worried about whether I was getting the right sheets or diaper genie.
After our kids were born, it was too cold, and they were too small, to take outside for anything except doctor’s appointments. But when the weather warmed a bit, I remember the first time we took them to the park, in their double stroller, all bundled up. Dorit slept the entire time, but Lucas was wide awake and one of the best pictures we have of him is from that day, with an incredible smirk on his face. We knew then he was going to be a pretty good looking child.
I can remember anytime we went somewhere together that I always wanted to push the stroller, partly to give my wife a break, but also because there was something about pushing them that helped me feel like I was doing something important for them, that I was doing something fatherlike. That was a big deal for me because I didn’t feel much like a father in those early days and thought that meant there was something wrong with me.
But the best part of the stroller for me was the incredible sense of pride I felt pushing the stroller – especially when I was by myself with them, while everyone would stop us to admire how cute our little twins were. “Yup, I’m their Daddy.” In the beginning those were some of the best feelings I associated with being a father.
I remember when we moved to the suburbs and put the stroller in the back of our car. We never took it out (even when we needed to like when we went to Costco and had too much stuff). That double stroller sat in the back of our car day in and day out for over a year, always there when we needed it.
I remember, once our children had started walking, that my wife and I would ask each other if we should bring the stroller? Ironically, she often wanted to and I often didn’t. I felt it was cumbersome, a burden. Let’s let our children run free now that they can, I believed. I also felt it was so hard to relate to them because we would be pushing them from behind and couldn’t see their faces or hear them when they talked.
One day, in the past few months, one of us took the stroller out of the back of the car and it never got put back. There is no way to tell the date of when we last used it or even thought we needed our double stroller, but its days are over and it sits in our basement like an old racehorse put out to pasture with nothing to do, no longer able to serve its purpose, to do what it was built to do.
Considering how much I wanted to stop using the stroller, I find myself particularly surprised at my reaction. Shouldn’t I be happy it is no longer an issue? But to me the stroller symbolized my children’s babyhood, a difficult time in my life as a father, yet also a time that will never return. Our children are getting older and older every day, but it is only moments like this when we really notice. For my wife, it is every time they outgrow their adorable clothing. For me, it is no longer needing or even being able to use the double stroller, the first real twin purchase we made, the first real admission that we were getting two instead of one. Now the stroller sits where my wife and I spend our time together after our children have gone to sleep, intruding on our time, reminding me of how it is all moving so fast.
Where does the time go? How can I make it slow down?