Losing the Stroller

walking.JPGToday, Kate shares the benefits that have come from following her daughter’s itch to walk:

“When I was pregnant, I spent many happy hours considering which stroller to buy. I read reviews, talked to friends, discreetly checked out the latest models on the sidewalks of my neighborhood, and weighed cost against style, durability, and fabulousness. In retrospect, I'll admit that I put more emphasis on the look of the thing than on its actual operation, but it was my first pregnancy and I had no real idea what it would mean to transport a newborn and then baby and then toddler on four wheels and in all seasons.
After my daughter was born and I had gathered my courage to take her out into the New England winter, I developed a more nuanced sense of what was really valuable in a stroller, and I've since tried out multiple brands and designs (our original stroller, which I picked out with happy anticipation when I was six months pregnant, having long ago been sold to an expectant mother). It has sometimes been a hassle - I have vivid memories of being wedged on crowded buses with my oversized stroller taking up the aisle and lots of dirty looks coming my way - but I've always been proud to push my daughter in front of me as we explore the city together.

We're now on our fifth stroller, and my daughter is a long-legged preschooler who has been itching to walk on her own for several months now. But I hesitated. Filled with anxiety about traffic and impatient pedestrians and patches of ice and mysterious gross things on the sidewalk, I put her off until a few weeks ago, when the time suddenly felt right to give it a try.

The walk from her preschool to our apartment building is no more than seven blocks, and mostly made up of broad sidewalks and parks. It's a busy neighborhood, though, and I wasn't sure how she would do navigating the noise and activity on our route. As in most things, she has impressed me. From the first day, she walked like a pro, deftly avoiding the clots of rowdy teenagers, stopping at the intersections to check for cars, and holding my hand with more assiduousness than she usually pays to my instructions. She sometimes dilly-dallies, but she also walks straight and sure and with a sense that she has as much right to the sidewalk as anyone else.

Most interestingly, I've found that our conversations, particularly those when we walk home from school, have become more complex and sophisticated. Without the stroller between us, we walk alongside each other and talk -- really talk -- in a way that is both new and wonderful. I'll confess to a slight nostalgia for my tiny baby in her big stroller, but seeing her more independent and more out in the world has been worth the pangs.”

Image credit: Christine Koh