When my first child was born I became an Attachment Parenting zealot. I thought this style of parenting was the answer to all of the world’s problems and if a person didn’t practice it with rigidity then they were part of the problem of making the world a terrible place. I was new to all of this and jumped on this new thing like an extremist. It filled a sort of void during the transition into motherhood when my world felt upside down, like a teenager hitting puberty.
I picked a metaphorical fight with the stroller. I had 2 strollers and sequestered them to the basement like POWs. I looked at moms walking with strollers with disdain. I thought, “oh, poor baby, that baby should be on her chest in a carrier.” I watched moms struggle onto buses with the bulky things and said to myself, “If she only knew about babywearing.” Like all of her problems would go away.
I cannot help but look back and roll my eyes at a lot of what I thought during early motherhood. People are different, come from different childhood experiences and like different things. Period. I am still a huge advocate for all things Attachment Parenting. It feels right for my family. And I still talk loudly about it because it’s not the popular way to do things and so I like to stick up for other people doing it as well as bring it to the attention of people who may not know about it. But my personal experiences with motherhood have brought me to a much more open-minded, accepting, tolerant and supportive place.
Last year I got pregnant. It was conveniently during the Polar Vortex so I was pretty much home all day for the first 2 trimesters. Then one day I walked over to a friend’s house. Like the good AP mom that I am I strapped my 2 ½-year-old into a carrier on my hip like I always figured I would as pregnant and AP. I made it about ½ a block before I thought I might be stranded right there on that block until someone came to save me. The under-boob sweat was dripping from my hot skin into the freezing cold air. I caught my breath and took a break. I had already been having a lot of pain in my abdomen and pelvis. Simply walking would become a chore. She lived really close so Jack walked the rest of the way—no big deal in the end. But what was I going to do when I wanted to actually get somewhere kind of far in less than the week it would take the King of Dicking Around to walk it?
I am so sorry for the hurtful things I said about you.
So I pulled one up from the basement and you know what happened? Jack loved it. And I liked it too. It had a basket for all my stuff, a cup holder for my coffee and my body felt such relief! But this sucker was bulky. It was like pushing a small car down the street. I was ready to upgrade now that I felt comfortable with how the stroller was going to support me and my growing family.
I chose the Joovy Toofold by Micralite. I believe in babywearing and keeping a young baby close to me so for now the littlest rides with me in a carrier on my chest. But he will grow into this double stroller and it will be an option for him as he grows. And the 2 of them can have it out about who gets to ride on the platform. The Toofold converts from a single to a double stroller with a few easy swipes of your foot. There is a platform at the back for one child to stand on and a seat at the front for the second child. (You can also purchase a second seat to easily convert it into a 2-seater.) It boasts front wheel suspension, yes, you heard me. Front. Wheel. Suspension. This has to be my favorite feature. “Hey Josh! Don’t pick up the front end of the stroller to go over that bump. Watch what happens!” My husband nervously pushes the stroller straight into a city of Chicago sidewalk pothole and sure enough it glides right over it. “Ha! That’s so awesome!” This never gets old. I am no longer the stroller pusher going around cracks and bumps, avoiding the grass or dirt path and pushing my foot into the back of the stroller to tip the front end up. Nope, this baby off roads. And check out the back wheels. Let’s not even pretend they’re wheels. They’re tires.
The Toofold has adjustable handlebars and stands up straight when folded. When we bring the stroller to a restaurant I push it into a corner, fold it up and flip over the handlebars and it’s out of the way. It’s 23.6lbs. I can pull it up the steps of my condo with one hand. I can steer it with one hand. Around corners, over bumps, you name it, I can do it with one hand. While the other hand holds my newborn’s unsteady head or holds Jack’s hand across the street if he happens to be running instead of riding. I love this stroller. It makes me feel cool. It has a truly unique design. I love the color. Sometimes I almost run into things on the street because I am staring at it. And I may or may not have coordinated Jack’s clothing to it a time or two.
Now, here is the point of conversation. Am I less of an Attachment Parent now that I use a stroller? I think not. My focus for my relationship with my children is on attachment, connection and intimacy. I do this by practicing things like babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, gentle discipline and a whole host of other things that are unique for my family. But I am a modern girl living in a modern world. Had I raised children in another part of the world or in a different time then I may have had extended family around me all day to hold and play with the children while I cooked, cleaned and ran the house. But modern moms are doing most of this work all by themselves. This is how convenience items have found a place in our lives.
If I am watching my children I will always stay in tune with them. Jack, at 3 years old, likes the stroller. He likes to eat a snack, watch trucks and see what’s going on. However, recently we went to a street fair where there was a lot of people and loud music. Jack was in the stroller. He became uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I know this because I watched him and checked in with him. My husband picked him up and put him in a carrier on his chest. Jack was comfortable again. There are other times when Jack doesn’t want to be worn. I can do the same with my youngest. I will keep him close to me and as he grows I watch him for cues about what he needs. It’s not really about being pro or anti-stroller. It’s about connecting with our kids, being aware, watching them and meeting their needs.
And one more point, am I the only one who just wants to put the baby down every once in a while? Not all the time, that would be parenting in a way that does not feel right for me. I believe that babies were born to be held. But sometimes, during the day that I spend alone with both of my boys, I just want to put everyone down and stretch my shoulders, swing my arms and kick up my legs. One day The King of Dicking Around wanted to get out of the stroller and look at flowers. As he looked at the flowers I was getting hot from wearing the carrier. I took my baby out of the carrier and put him in the seat of the stroller. We continued to hang out and I walked next to the stroller so my baby could see me and I could give myself a break. I have to be able to find balance between my extremist AP views and the reality that is my life.
Abby Theuring, MSW