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A Stroller Story

By Jennifer Boyack

When my nine year old son was two, we would occasionally 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 two 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 who is preparing to be a great scientist (a post for another day). 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.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer B. lives in southern California where she was raised. She loved attending BYU and in 1993 she graduated with a BA in English Teaching. A week after graduation, she married her best friend, Andrew. Together they have seven children. Most of her days are dedicated to caring for family and the attempt to tame clutter and chaos. Jennifer adores good books, interesting conversation, and tasty food which explains why she eagerly awaits book club each month.

About Jennifer Boyack

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27 thoughts on “A Stroller Story”

  1. I am now nursing what feels to be my last baby. He tried to wean himself two months ago, and I forced — yes, forced — him to keep nursing. I can't bear the thought of never nursing again.

    It's beautiful and exciting to watch my children grow, but it IS hard to leave behind those precious phases, knowing you'll never revisit them in the same way again.

    This was lovely, thanks!

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  2. What a beautiful post! I know exactly what you mean about time spent on my knees as amother. I feel exactly that way about my little one growing up.

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  3. Your essay captures the contradictory feelings that come whenever an era passes. Whether its mothering babies, gradutating, moving, getting married, switching callings, sending a loved one off, it seems there is always an inner conflict.

    We want it, yet we don't, we love it, yet we hate it, we look forward to it, yet we dread it. The Book of Mormon refers to it as "opposition in all things" and being "compound in one".

    I agree with you that the end of babies is heart-wrenching. I know I will be one wretched texan when my last kiddo starts kindergarten. What will I do? I'll probably have a good cry and then delve into a project I've backburnered for these many years. And then I'll start dreaming about grandchildren. That phase looks fun, too.

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  4. Thank you for capturing in words the emotions we feel as these children slip through our hands at a seemingly ever increasing pace. All the more reason to revel in the now. Keep writing, I look forward to reading more from you.

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  5. This is beautiful, Jennifer. I clearly remember the day we took down the crib for what we knew was the last time. I bawled all morning, and felt like I was walking under a dark cloud for at least a week after. And we won't even talk about the day my youngest started kindergarten.

    But the good news is that life goes on! Each new chapter brings its own challenges and rewards, joys and sorrows. Still, there's nothing quite like having a house full of adorable/adoring, lovable/loving, irascible/rascally little ones.

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  6. man jen, you really have a way to get my tears flowing! i loved it the first time and loved it even more this time… 🙂

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  7. One of the benefits of having a son with Down syndrome as my lastborn is that I get to enjoy him doing baby things longer. He's 17 months old and just learned how to get from an all-fours position into a sitting up position. It's so much fun to see him learn new things, but I'm not in any hurry for him to grow up. Sigh.

    If I could save time in a bottle… sing it with me now.

    And that would be the perfect solution too. We could open the bottle and take a swig of babyhood only when we were thirsty for it. 🙂

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  8. Okay, I hope my comment didn't make it sound like I didn't like this one (I most certainly did NOT mean "why didn't you post macaroni mom instead of this"), because I very much do. My baby is the first one I've been able to nurse, and we are nearing weaning time, and it's going to be hard.

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  9. Great post! I had to go get a job when my baby (now almost eight) started school. In part because I couldn't bare the empty silence of the house for such long periods of time during the day.

    I'm hanging on to the stroller, however. In hopes there will someday be grandbabies trying to squirm out of it.

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  10. Well, I didn't cry, but I really enjoyed it. Your family leaves an indelible impression on everyone they meet. Chloe came out of her room this morning, bleary eyed and barely awake. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and she replied, "I want Nelson."

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  11. Thank you for that wonderful story Jennifer, Can I call you Jen? This moved me. Reading this story made me excited for my future. Thanks again,

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  12. Thank you for that wonderful story Jennifer, Can I call you Jen? This moved me. Reading this story made me excited for my future. Thanks again.

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  13. Hi Jen!! That was one of the best stories I've ever read in my life. WOW!! Very inspirational. This makes me excited to be a mom, since I'm not quite old enough yet.

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  14. Wonderfully written! Very nice structure. This was a good read for someone who's kind of in the middle of it all and wondering when I'll get a break. It's also encouraging to know that despite your collected appearance, you've had to struggle, too. I appreciate your words of wisdom and hope you write more – you're quite talented.

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  15. Thanks for these sentiments. My stroller is like our car here in New York and though there are times I'm sweating to buckle my little on in it so I can get out the door on time and hoping I won't have to lug it up the stairs from the train, I do feel this stage of life is precious!

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  16. I have really enjoyed all the comments.

    I suppose the same challenges (like maple syrup on a freshly-scrubbed floor, or a complete roll of T.P. in the bath, or the "into the carseat" wrestling match) that make me want to exclaim,"Enough!" also bind me to my children. How can I not love those little ones that I am compelled to serve (and forgive) again and again and again? If nothing else, it sure makes those unexpected "I love you Mommy!" moments that much sweeter.

    Thank you everyone, for your thoughtful comments!

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  17. You guys, you will have grandchildren and there you go filling that baby hunger.

    I feel worse about my youngest granddaughter almost being three than I did about my kids growing up. I am bugging my daughters to have a baby. I have clothes and toys for that baby saved.

    Neither of them intends on having a baby anytime soon. But I'm making it a matter of prayer.

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  18. This was kinda poignant for me since I just had our first baby . . . she's less than 3 weeks old. The transition has been rough and of course nothing of what I thought it would be like. Newborns are hard work. I have found myself wishing for the next 6 months to fly by and wishing I was on my 2nd or 3rd child already–just to get things moving along . . . I can't say reading this post made those feelings totally go away, but I can see how one day I'll probably feel as you do and totally forget that I ever wanted time to speed up. Seems like something I needed to hear . . . Great post–thanks.

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  19. This was kinda poignant for me since I just had our first baby . . . she's less than 3 weeks old. The transition has been rough and of course nothing of what I thought it would be like. Newborns are hard work. I have found myself wishing for the next 6 months to fly by and wishing I was on my 2nd or 3rd child already–just to get things moving along . . . I can't say reading this post made those feelings totally go away, but I can see how one day I'll probably feel as you do and totally forget that I ever wanted time to speed up. Seems like something I needed to hear . . . Great post–thanks.

    Reply
  20. Jennifer,

    I don't know where you found the time to write such a sweet, poignant story. I can definately relate to all of the emotions. I am so proud of you. WELL DONE!

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  21. Jen,
    I have felt the same way. It's amazing how we can feel such extreme emotions about the same situation. I look at my four children now ages 12-5 and think, someday these little people will be gone and replaced with adults…I'm sure going to miss them. Great post! Thanks for getting me thinking.

    Reply

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