Sorry Haters, My Double Stroller Isn't Hurting Anyone

double strollerI was holding the door to Starbucks open with my foot while attempting to shoehorn my double stroller over the threshold, when a woman nearby muttered, in her loudest stage whisper, “These women and their SUV strollers!” My double stroller, if you hadn’t guessed, is not one of those sleek upstairs-downstairs contraptions. Nope, mine is a double-wide, a pre-fab on wheels, a monster.

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Improbably, it is just narrow enough to fit through the doorway of most bodegas. But when you see it coming down the sidewalk, it appears to be roughly the same size as a 1978 Ford Pinto. Or maybe Sputnik.

But it is nothing like an SUV. I should know, because I have one. For starters, my SUV has a seat for me, which my stroller sorely lacks. It also has air-conditioning. When I strap my kids into my SUV, they sit far enough apart that they have to try really hard to kick one another. (Now don’t get me wrong: It happens. It just takes effort.)

My stroller has no power beyond the propulsion of my beat-up flip-flops, and pushing it around isn’t a day at the spa. On average, it has two kids, six diapers, two bathing suits, a towel, three buckets, four shovels, a ball, a pack of sidewalk chalk, and lately, a set of plastic golf clubs. It also has my wallet and phone, sunscreen, a handful of superhero books, some Elmo swag, a few canisters of bubbles, several bagels, sippy cups, and bags of Goldfish. Oh, and a portable toilet.

My point: You’d stop for a cup of coffee, too.

More From The Stir: 8 Ways Moms With Strollers Drive Us Crazy

And when I do, I am shocked by the visible ire on the faces of strangers when they see me coming. Each day brings a litany of eye rolls, audible sighs, and doors clanging shut in the faces of me and my children, as if we have violated a code of being by daring to take up more than our allotted space. There is a shocking amount of rage people feel toward those of us who are deigning to raise young children right out there in public, and the double stroller seems to bring it out in people.

Case on point:  Brooklyn bartender and anti-stroller champion Andy Heildel, who wrote ‘The Stroller Manifesto’ decrying the presence of children and strollers in bars and restaurants. In it, he writes:

Don’t get me started about the strollers blocking access to the bar, seating, and the looks I get when I ask someone to move their stroller because it is obviously in the way of not only me but also everyone else. Doublewide strollers are the bane of Park Slope.

On chat boards and elsewhere, the objections are more blunt. On a Yelp post titled ‘I Hate Strollers and Inconsiderate Parents,’ Cats L. writes:

Parents insist on squeezing into the aisles with their strollers when there's barely space to maneuver?  What now?  Are we supposed to make space for you?  Why can't you bring a smaller jogger stroller?  You don't need that massive HUMMER-size stroller with 20 different compartments!

Indeed, mom Rebecca Odes writes that strollers have “become a symbol of the things people without kids hate about people with them: They take up too much space, they expect others to conform to their needs—literally, to get out of their way.”

And yet, my double stroller is my prize possession. It allows me to leave my apartment in the early morning and not return until evening. It allows me to never use a grocery cart. It allows me to have more upper body strength than I deserve, considering I haven’t been to a gym in years. Most importantly, it has allowed me to fulfill my intrepid vision of parenting -- one where we aren’t bound by nap schedules or meal times, deterred by bright sunshine or pouring rain, or sentenced to an afternoon surrounded by the four walls of our apartment and the echoing cries of “I’m bored." If you can name it, we can walk there, and if you can shove it into the basket underneath, we can bring it.

More From The Stir: I Bribed My 4-Year-Old to Stop Using a Stroller

My double stroller and I aren’t going anywhere. Or, more to the point, we are going everywhere. Until the day comes that it is more efficient for my children to walk than to ride, you’ll see me behind my pre-fab, puttering down the streets. It’s a big world out there, and there’s room for all of us -- four wheels and all.

Do you have a double stroller? What kind of comments do you deal with?

 

About the Author: Erin Blakeley writes about parenting and family life. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe MagazineParents, CNN.com, Babble, and Scary Mommy, among other publications. You can find her on Twitter @blakeleyerin.


Image via © iStock.com/Milan Stojanovic

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