Don’t Like My Double Stroller? Get Over It!

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I heard a troubling remark yesterday at a restaurant. It was close to the lunch hour but the place wasn’t particularly crowded yet. Still, while a mom and her party were being led to their table, she said, “I’m sorry to be such a troublemaker.”

Was she requesting special treatment? Had she rejected the host’s initial seat selection? No, her major offense was that she was pushing a stroller. Her baby was sitting quietly in said stroller and there was plenty of space for the rig, but she still felt it necessary to apologize.

I get it. My husband is the same way. He becomes visibly agitated at the mere mention of bringing the stroller inside anywhere. We had to leave a large public event recently because he was convinced that everyone was shooting us the hairy eyeball for driving our double-wide through the crowd. Somehow lost in his concern for other people was the fact that I (his wife) would have been chasing our toddlers around and completely unable to enjoy myself were it not for the help of that damn stroller.

Let’s face it, strollers serve a pretty important purpose. And guess what: so do moms! It may sound like a hyperbolic leap to infer that if strollers are unwanted in certain situations then so are mothers, but that is the message being sent. (Reminds me of the time I was told by a woman in a movie theater that my eight-months-pregnant-ass should just stay home instead of shifting around in my seat a whole bunch during the movie. Nice! Way to go on the female solidarity front, lady!)

So maybe the question here is this: are strollers (and their drivers) an unwanted entity in many public scenarios or is this simply a gross misinterpretation on the part of moms and dads everywhere? Should we be apologizing for bringing our baby transport systems into restaurants and on subways or should the rest of society buck up and deal with any resulting inconvenience? I bet you can guess my answers.

Being something of a centrist, I will concede that basic stroller etiquette must be followed. And I do mean basic. Don’t run into people, especially their heels or Achilles tendons (that [email protected]#king hurts!); allow people to pass when you’re moving slowly; always say, “Excuse me” when squeezing between clueless path-blockers; and fold that bad boy up if parked, whenever possible. If you are a conscientious baby buggy bringer, do not feel pressured to skip the party. Motherhood is isolating enough without the added concern that your presence is unwanted unless it’s limited to the dimensions of your body alone.

Because, as my husband frequently argues, we could always just carry our children. Or wear them. I’m sorry, but as a short-statured woman with two young children there is no way I can carry or wear both of them and still function as a human out there in the world. Have you ever tried that kind of balancing act in a grocery store? No – why would you? You’d grab a cart and stick your kids in it to facilitate maximum mobility and minimum fuss (preferably a race car-shaped cart). Sounds a lot like a stroller, no?

If my husband and I are out together and the schlepping burden is reduced to one child each, I generally agree. But not if we’re going to be walking around a bunch and not if (as is usually the case) my neck and back are all tweaked and achy from breastfeeding/carrying the kids at home/folding laundry/sleeping with my daughter’s foot lodged under my head, etc. I’m just not that down with the baby-wearing once they reach 20 pounds. It hurts, they don’t particularly enjoy it, and, ahem – THAT’S WHAT STROLLERS WERE MADE FOR!

So the next time you are that stroller-wielding mama, proceed through the public space with a smile and a few polite “excuse me’s,” but do not consider yourself a troublemaker. And if you’re someone who comes across a parent and their stroller, be kind. Show compassion. They’re overtired and underappreciated as it is – nobody needs your rolling eyes or mumbled insults.