Friday, February 9, 2007

A Stroller Story

When my nine year old son was two, we would sometimes walk his sister to kindergarten. One day on our walk home, I was chatting with a neighbor and my toddler was screeching and twisting in the stroller, struggling to get out. Finally, frustrated and wanting to be able to have 2 minutes of adult conversation, I let him out . He bolted down a long stretch of grass directly toward a busy street. Moving at top speed, he did not slow as he neared the curb. I ran screaming, Stop! Stop! No response. No slowing. Then, miraculously, he stopped abruptly at the curb. My heart throbbed and I picked him up winded and shaking. (That was me who was winded and shaking. My son was grinning and I think I saw a glint in his eye.)

This is the
same child I mentioned yesterday who is preparing to be a great scientist. He is incredibly curious, energetic, and swift--a dangerous combination. I should mention that he is also incredibly tender, affectionate, and fun. All my toddlers (I’m on my seventh currently) have been challenging and lovable. Parenting toddlers has been tremendously trying. It has often brought me to my knees -- in prayer, in pleading, and let’s not forget, in wiping, scooping, mopping, scrubbing, and last but not least, in complete exhaustion. On tough days (read months), I have even exclaimed, “I am SO done with toddlers!” But through it all, I have had my share of cuddles, scribbled love notes, and spontaneous expressions of,”I love you!” I think I’ve even learned a thing or two.

Today, seven years later, I made
another walk to kindergarten with my stroller, and a two year old. We’ve been making this walk for over five months and have marked our path with familiar stopping points ( the stop sign, the yellow boat, the CURB!). For several weeks now, I have let my two year old out of the stroller for the walk home. Instead of making life-threatening sprints toward the street, he knows how and where to stop and how to hold on to the stroller when we cross the street. Today, for the first time I let him walk both ways to school as I pushed an empty stroller. As we went along, my neighbor commented. “You’re not going to need that stroller much longer.” Everything froze for an imperceptible instant. Years of sleep deprivation, potty training and endless spills, messes, and accidents raced through my brain. I could even remember the words of my dear, wise mother-in law saying, “you’ll weep as you bear and raise them and you’ll weep when you’re done.” Not me, I had begun to think. After years of feeling stretched to capacity and beyond, I was pretty sure I would feel at peace about it all--maybe even do a little jig.

But suddenly, I feel like screaming again at my little toddler who is out of the stroller,
Stop! Stop! And the thought of packing away my stroller makes me want to cry.

12 comments:

Toni said...

I felt that way about the highchair- even though it never quite had a 'nook' in the kitchen!

Jennifer B. said...

Welcome Toni! I guess it's usually a bittersweet experience for most moms. Hope you'll visit again.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

My baby just turned 4, and we celebrated by tossing out our crusty kitchen booster seat that we've used for 11 consecutive years.

Try homeschooling. It just may be a guaranteed cure for baby fever.

Jennifer B. said...

elastic -- Truly a milestone.(You really tossed the booster? Not going to get it bronzed or anything?) And I love your advice. Just THINKING of homeschool seems to do the trick. Thank you!

Maralise said...

jennifer b.--thanks for the perspective. I was just thinking this morning, "I am NEVER going to be able to trash this high-chair that I have hated since we first go it." And with my youngest who refuses to eat, and with whom we are forced to puree food and spoon-feed him (he's two!) that may be true. But, seeing that others have moved on makes me want to treasure what I have. Thanks again...

Jennifer B. said...

maralise -- thanks for stopping by. I was so touched by your post "Eat, Fly" at Segullah. I draw strength from moms like you. Thanks so much for sharing and for taking the time to comment!

queen serene said...

It's funny. I was just at Shopko with my 3 remaining preschoolers (well, one kindergartner). I saw a lady hauling an infant car seat into her shopping cart and I thought, hot dang, I'll never do that again! But other times as I'm holding my youngest I realize this is the last time around, and I am sad. Very sad. I would freeze him at this moment in time if I could. Maybe.

Jennifer B. said...

Queen -- I am so honored by your royal visit! I know what you mean. I have mixed feelings about the stage of life I am in. Rejoicing the closer I get to the end of diaper disasters and grieving as I near the last of those fierce hugs fueled by toddler power. Nothing quite like being bowled over by an affectionate (and strong!) two year old. (Sniff.)

bookworm said...

I know what you feel like. Little kids are just so cute and you wish they could stay like that forever. Although it can be exciting to see how fast they can grow up and the choices they make in their life.

Shari said...

oh man jennifer...you really know how to tug at heart strings! my tears just can't seem to stay inside my body when I read things like this...ahhh the tender feelings of motherhood are so precious to me!!!!!

Jennifer B. said...

Hey Shari! Thanks for visiting. Motherhood is definitely a tender and passionate subject for me.
I'm excited you have your own blog! I look forward to reading more from you.

Rebecca said...

hey Jennifer - just scrolling through some of your archives here. This is such a great post .... and the feelings you describe define so well for me why I still have babylust.

It is such hard work...the first three years of a child's life - so intense and so hard for the parents to get a break. And yet...NOT to have a toddler around anymore; the funny language, the delightful innocence, the grubby cuddles, the snot, the tears and tantrums....too too heartbreaking.

We have only had four (I love it that I can say 'only' about having had four to you) and the youngest is 3 ...and life is staring to get a whole lot easier...much more civilised....so why can't I get the idea of 'another baby' from my head????