Stroller Envy -- by Gina
Hi, my name is Gina Schlagel, and I'm a 41-year old mom with a 3 1/2 year old daughter named Gianna. I am new to the Motherhood Later bloggers, and this is my very first blog. Hope to connect with many of you MLTS Moms in the coming weeks by sharing stories/thoughts I am hoping others can relate to. I welcome your feedback!
It was a couple of days after last week's snowstorm. I was looking for the always rare parking spot near work, and I had just found what I was convinced was the last one in the entire neighborhood. I debated about taking it, as it was a few blocks from my office (and Gianna's pre-school). I always pulled into the temporary drop-off spot at the school, walked her in, then came back out to find a spot on the street. Given the scarcity of parking due to the snow, I figured I would break from the normal routine and grab the spot, even if it meant we'd have a long walk in the drizzly rain.
"Gianna, we're going to walk a little, today, OK?" I was answered with a whiny, "Awww, why?" "Well, Mommy has to grab this spot before it's gone..." No answer. "I know, wanna ride in the stroller!" "Yay," she cried. I figured it would sound like fun to her - we rarely used the stroller anymore and had actually never used it on the typically short walk from the car to the school. Besides, how resourceful can you get - I could walk faster strolling her rather than walking her, I could pull the stroller canopy up over her to keep the drizzly rain off her... this is great, I thought. Why haven't I been doing this all along?
We walked along, but something just didn't feel right. I realized that pushing a stroller while dressed in a suit and heels just felt... well, funny. Silly, almost. I felt almost self-conscious - what if one of my colleagues sees me? Would they too think it looked a bit...well.. out of place? I quickly dismissed the thought as we rounded the corner, thinking, "Oh, who cares what anyone thinks!" As we entered the daycare, I stopped, gleefully announcing to Gianna, "We're here! Time to hop out!" She froze. "But... not HERE!!??", she yelled. What? What's the matter? I saw her gaze land on the open door of her classroom. "They're gonna SEEEEE me! Like the BABIES!" I realized she was mortified at the thought of her classmates seeing her get out of (gasp!) a stroller just like the ones the babies ride in. As I comforted her, "Honey, don't worry, no one is looking at you. Here, get out here, then." I clumsily pushed the stroller back out of the double doors so she could make her stealthy exit outside the building, ensuring no jeering glances from her fellow pre-schoolers. We then walked in calmly as we did every day, no sign of the offending stroller in sight (parked temporarily in the hallway.) I kissed her goodbye as I did every day, and as she went off into class, I now turned my attention to getting the stroller (did I mention it is neon orange?) into the elevator with me up to my office without being spotted by those sneaky kids. I made it into the elevator unseen, entered my floor, strolled down the hall to my office (quickly), and "hid" good ol' Peg Perego in the corner of my office. Whew! I made it.
I felt sorry for Gianna - knowing that she was already, at her young age, worried about what other people thought. At the same time, I was a bit impressed that she picked up on what the norms for her age are and that her peers are indeed judging each other even at three and four. It got me thinking: at what point do our children start worrying about what their peers think of them?
My thoughts then turned selfish...I guess this means no more stroller? I began to mourn the loss of my own freedom...plop her in the stroller and get my errands done, do my mall shopping... were those days over? How will I survive? Who's going to carry all those heavy packages I stuff into the bottom basket, and my heavy handbag I sling over the handles? She was so safe and secure in there, too; now I have to worry about her slipping out of my grasp and running off. And so came the bittersweet acceptance that yes, indeed, my "baby" had outgrown the stroller, both physically and mentally. I, however, was the only only who had not.
Only time will tell if that was definitely our last carefree stroller ride. Maybe I can squeeze a few more long walks out of it in the coming weeks, for old time's sake. I will miss it, not just for the convenience and habit, but more for all it represented: my only child's fleeting "babyhood." Where did the last 3 1/2 years go? And what will the next hold? I am excited to find out as Gianna and I continue to "grow up" together...as I return to the world of full-time, corporate office work, and she readies herself for preschool and soon Pre-K.