For the past six months I’ve rolled my eyes every time a friend, relative, my therapist, the dry cleaner and everyone else has seen me wearing Luella and condescendingly told me, “You can’t carry her forever, you know.” Of all the “offbeat” parenting decisions we’ve made, not having a pram seems to be the one we get the most flack for. And yet for six months I stuck to my baby-wearing guns. After all, every experienced baby-wearer I know has told me they wore their kids up to age 2 or even beyond.
So it’s with an extremely heavy heart that I share this confession….
Last week, we bought a stroller.
I don’t know why I’ve failed at this. Maybe it’s because at six months Luella weighed 21 lbs (pushing 10 kilos) which is about the average weight for a 1 year old typically, and my back muscles just can’t keep up with her growth. When I take her to the shops in the Boba I feel like I’m going to collapse by the time we get back. And since one of her naps each day is usually in the Sleepy Wrap, I just felt like I needed to give my shoulders a break.
So yeah, this stroller. In my defence, I bought it second-hand on Gumtree for $85. Combing through the ads we found ones going for over $1000 used. What did these things cost new? Why would anyone spend that much money!? I don’t know why anyone would buy a new pram, let alone spend four figures. The one we got folds up really small, had great reviews, and is gender-neutral red.
But here’s the thing. I hate it.
I’ve had mixed results in it. The first time Luella screamed when I put her in. The second and third times she fell asleep straight away but only napped about 30 minutes. The fourth time she sat there calmly but looked really bored, almost depressed. And then yesterday she cried so much every time I disappeared behind her that I had to take her out and carry her and push the damn empty stroller.
It’s unwieldy. I’ve only taken it to the park. I’m afraid to take it to the shops because I feel like I’d simply be in everyone’s way. And I think taking it on public transit would just be a joke. When I wear her I feel unencumbered and unobtrusive – the exact opposite of using a stroller. But I think my least favourite thing about it… I just feel so uncool.
This is where I apologise to the millions of mothers I’m about to offend. But goddamn prams are just so lame. Every time I push it I feel like I should be drinking a Starbucks latte and hopping into my SUV to drive to soccer practice in my mom jeans. It’s so suburban. So everything I always feared my life turning into when I had a kid. So not me.
This combined with moving out of Newtown, our edgy home for the last two years, and into a much more “family-friendly” area and I feel like I’m almost having a bit of an identity crisis. Last night I actually made a list in my head of all the parenting decisions that I feel like I haven’t compromised on. Here’s what I came up with.
- I don’t drive and instead take public transit everywhere. Luella will learn how to navigate it on her own and travel all over Sydney on it. She won’t be afraid of the city.
- We’ve stuck to feeding Lu vegan whole foods – and a diverse range. She’s had African, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, and more. Most of these cuisines I didn’t try until I was in my 20s!
- She has family all over the world and an immigrant mum. By the time I become an Australian citizen Lu will be old enough to learn about what that means and come to my swearing in.
- Luella has never seen a television commercial and we hope she never sees one in our home.
- She will go to a a primary school where she’ll be in the minority as a white student.
- We’re atheist greenies. Instead of spending her Sundays in church we’ll spend them doing fun family activities, learning about the world, volunteering, and going to political rallies. She’s already been to three protests!
There are dozens of other things that make us an offbeat family, from my tattoos to our co-sleeping on the floor. Having a stroller to give my back a break doesn’t change that. But next time I take her out in it, I may do it in dark sunglasses and a fake moustache so you can’t tell it’s me.