I was cleaning the basement the other day when I saw a curved plastic blue handle peeking out from under a shelf. A little digging revealed that the handle belonged to a stroller. As in another stroller. As in the stroller that has brought me to double digits. And there you have it. I own 10 strollers (*annotated list below). I am a stroller hoarder.
I have some excuses, if not good ones. At one point in the not-so-distant-past, I had three children under the age of 26 months (yes, twins were involved). There was intricate planning involved just to take my dog for a walk every morning, so strollers were definitely needed -- though probably not 10 of them. But there they are, and there they remain: strollers in the garage, strollers in the basement, strollers, strollers, everywhere, springing from the walls like stinkbugs. That said, even I had my limits. I refused to buy a triple stroller. And for what it’s worth, I only bought two strollers new.
I suppose the not-so-painstakingly-curated stroller collection stems from the panic organizational challenges that result from taking three children that small out of the house, usually solo. You need a game plan. You need options. You need strollers. And you don’t want to be stuck without the stroller you need.
The last time we had to fly with the kids, over Thanksgiving, my husband and I debated for half an hour about which stroller to bring. We made our choice... and proceeded to forget it on the porch. And what do you know -- we travelled with no trouble, even making a tight connection in Atlanta with time to spare.
And therein lies the real problem. With our youngest now 20 months and all three kids perfectly capable of walking, I think I’ve only used a stroller once in the past month. The stroller collection now stands as a relic from the time in my life when I could rank every establishment in the Squirrel Hill business district for its double stroller navigability (size of entryway, doors opening inward or outward, the dreaded giant step right at the doorway), when I would forget why walking the dog on Friday was a bad idea until I was not only was I scaling Pittsburgh hills with two kids in a stroller and one strapped to my chest, but moving stinky trashcans out of my way to do it, when visiting friends who lived up a set of stairs was like competing in an obstacle course.
At this point, I really only need two of them. Maybe one of them. Maybe three of them if I ever start jogging again. A couple of them might be sellable on Craigslist and the rest can be donated, putting the stroller days behind me, not to mention all those crazy memories. And I will... someday.
Anya’s Stroller Collection (*Annotated)
1) Double BOB: The workhorse, the one that gave me freedom from houseboundness and power to navigate Pittsburgh’s jagged sidewalks without peril. The one that has been through probably a dozen tires, logged hundreds of miles and cost more than two different cars once purchased by my husband. And the one that now has mildewed covers and one broken buckle strap.
2) Double Jeep side-by-side: The lightweight BOB alternative that I never used much because the sunshades bent immediately, making it useless for outdoor travel, and it had no baskets, making it not great for the grocery store. Useful only for airports, for which it was used exactly twice.
3) The Inglesina side-by-side: Bought spur of the moment from a neighbor, who was moving, said she paid $200 for it, and offered it to me for $50. Terrible sunshades and it always steered badly, but the nice big baskets underneath were useful at Trader Joe’s.
4 + 5) Two umbrella strollers, given to me by my sister-in-law, each only used once, during a visit to the Strip District where I feared the side-by-side strollers on crowded sidewalks.
6) The Baby Trend double Snap-N-Go: Treacherous on Pittsburgh city sidewalks, great for hospitals and malls, but truly useless unless you have twins in bucket seats. Has been the featured item as my stroller collection shifted to a stroller lending library, as I’ve lent it to three different friends with twins. Got as a baby shower present.
7) The single snap and go (Graco brand): Great with a baby in a bucket seat, and much less treacherous on sidewalks than the double version, which was like steering a bus. Nice and light, worked great for the eight months I had one baby in a bucket seat.
8) Graco LiteRider Stroller: Bought when baby got too big for the snap and go, and the only stroller I still use on any regular basis. Got it for $40 almost new on Craigslist. Sunshade doesn’t go down far enough but other than that, does its job and does it well.
9) Joovy Sit and Stand: Known to me as the Sit, Sit and Stand, because I always throw three kids on there in violation of the manufacturer’s instructions. Known to my kids as the “Hop On Hop Off Stroller” because they can easily get out and smell the flowers, or what have you. Great for the zoo, or the airport (if we’d remembered it) Bought for $60 on Craigslist, which was a miracle. Great stroller, especially if you have two kids and use it for its intended purpose (it gets a little heavy pushing 90 pounds of children up a hill...).
10) The mystery stroller, model unknown, its only identifying marker a tag from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, tying its provenance to friends that once visited us from Cleveland with their 13-month-old. Never used by me. Still resides under a shelf in the basement.
Anya Sostek is a Post-Gazette staff writer and moderator of the PlayGround.