I couldn't fold the stroller. Me, with my baby already in his car seat snuggly in the back of the car and our top-of-the-line Perego in the parking lot of the mall on our first official outing – and I couldn’t fold the damn stroller to get it back into the car. It was the Mercedes of strollers, purchased by his grandparents. It had a bunting and a cover. It laid flat and sat up straight. I just wanted it to fold.
Hours before I’d lifted it out of the hatchback and opened it with one hand. I clicked it into its locked position, a feature unique to this model. I strapped in the baby – who couldn’t yet move on his own – and proceeded to the mall, ready to be one of those moms. He was seven weeks old. We’d been on walks around the block and to the local Rite Aid where I discovered the joys of post partum chocolate Teddy Grahams – but we hadn’t been to the mall. Our first Mommy and Me group was starting the following week. I had to get this “out of the house” thing under control. In seven weeks I’d master the diapers, bottles, baths and middle of the night feedings that I had no idea would take an hour. I was learning to be a mom one minute at a time.
Could I be a good mom if I couldn’t fold the stroller?
I kicked it again and shook it up in the air. I looked around and learned my first big lesson as a mother. You do whatever it takes. You don’t care what anyone thinks. I shoved the open stroller into the back of my car.
And what do you know? Everyone survived.
That night I brought the stroller in the house. My husband at the time and I examined it from side to side. We stepped on parts, pushed levers, cursed and prayed. At some point with some jostling and cajoling and sweet talking, the stroller folded and we fell into a pile of laughter. We had no idea how we got it to fold, and from that day on, I simply closed my eyes and said a little silent prayer and gave it a good simultaneous shake, shove and kick. And it folded. Every time.
I don’t know if there was an instruction booklet. We never looked for one. We just wanted to figure it out on our own – and again, considering my son has grown into a 17-year-old young man with no signs of stroller anxiety, I think that philosophy has worked just fine.
The Evolution of Stroller Anxiety
1. Stroller? What’s a stroller?
2. Oh my! Look at all those strollers.
3. Can I push your baby in the stroller? Please?
4. I want to push my own baby in a stroller. Sigh.
5. What kind of stroller do I need? Oh my!
6. Stroller shopping . I have a headache.
7. Pushing my baby in a stroller. Look at me!
8. Pushing packages in the stroller. Come here and hold my hand.
9. Pushing two kids in a stroller. Watch out, wide load!
10. Two kids pushing the stroller.
11. In case of emergency stroller. You just never know.
12. You’re too big for a stroller.
13. It would be easier if you were in a stroller. Sigh.
14. You can borrow my stroller, but I want it back.
15. Dusty stroller. Oh the memories!
16. Yard sale stroller. I’ll pay you to take it.
17. Don’t hit me in the back of my heels with your damn stroller.
Amy Sue Nathanís debut novel, The Glass Wives, will be published by St. Martinís Press in Spring 2013. In addition to The Imperfect Parent, Amyís stories and essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times online, The Washington Post online, The Huffington Post, Chicago Parent, Grey Sparrow Journal, Rose and Thorn Journal, Scribblers On The Roof, The Verb, Hospital Drive Journal and The Stone Hobo. She is also a freelance fiction editor, a reader for literary agents, and Secretary of the RWA-WF Chapter. In 2011 Amy launched Womenís Fiction Writers, a blog focusing on the authors, business and craft of traditionally published womenís fiction.
Amy lives near Chicago and is the mom of a son in college, a daughter in high school, and two rambunctious rescued dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @AmySueNathan where she tweets about writing, books, parenting, and chocolate.
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