Two weekends ago, a potential snowstorm derailed our plans for a trip to visit my Mom and dear friends. Disappointed, I decided this was a sign that we needed to tackle the clutter in our basement. Managing the chaos of the unopened boxes from our move 20 months ago and sorting through toys we no longer wanted or needed was somehow going to address the sadness I felt at missing out on our trip. With the kids in tow, the husband and I headed downstairs. The kids rode their scooters, kicked the soccer ball, and drew on the pint-size chalkboard. We got to work.
In the end, we had piles: trash, recycling, donate to Goodwill, donate to Cradles to Crayons, donate to our church’s annual yard sale, consign, sell on ebay, sell on Craigslist, and give away on Freecycle. We had 10 items for our town’s Freecycle list and three items for Craiglist. I posted those 13 things–including a toddler bed (the one both kids had slept in), a changing table (the one I bought for $5 at a yard sale and used daily for five years), a bench, a cookbook, a briefcase (with an easy-to-fix broken handle), and two strollers–on Saturday afternoon. By Monday, we had gotten rid of or sold 70% of those items.
The one that hung around for another week was my super-fancy double stroller, the one I agonized over buying when G was in the womb and R was still breaking in his baby teeth. I have such vivid memories of using that stroller time and again. I can still feel the texture of the handle and the weight of the stroller as I pushed it along. The fact it sat in our basement ever since we moved, neglected, as my children grew older, refusing, and not needing, to ride in it, did not change what it represented. For me, the stroller was my maternity leave with G when we walked each afternoon to R’s daycare to bring him home. I pushed that stroller down the hill, empty, with G strapped to my chest, quiet, warm, and content, and then later, pushed it back up, now with my toddler, chatting away in the front seat about his day or trains or trucks. That stroller represented walks through our neighborhood and our town, with the kids pointing at a dog, a tree, or a cyclist, chatting and entertaining one another. In the end, that stroller was all about my babies, my small little people.
I hadn’t recently thought much of that stroller (except that we needed to get rid of it). But then, a week after posting it to Craigslist, a family drove down from New Hampshire and bought it from us. The mom sat in the car with the kids as my husband showed the dad how it worked and discussed its broken tire. They negotiated a fair price and the dad pushed it out my front door and into his family’s life, to transport more small people and make more memories.
As their car drove away, I stood in my kitchen and, unexpectedly, sobbed. I hadn’t cried giving away the changing table or the toddler bed, but that stroller tugged at something they hadn’t. A part of my heart that had gathered memories of my growing-so-quickly children saddened at the departure of that stroller. Selling it meant I knew we weren’t going back to babyhood again. Our view is forward now. As I wiped away my tears, my small people–no longer babies–ran to me with arms outstretched. They didn’t need the stroller anymore; they just needed me.