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Have Stroller, Will Ramble

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'Can't we get rid of this?" my husband asks, exasperated. Rich and I are officially cleaning out the garage, and the three large bags we've designated "flea market," "trash," and "keep" are almost full. We are at that tense part of any household project: in too far to stop, but with no end in sight. The strain is beginning to show.

"C'mon, Liz," Rich adds, noticing my hesitation. "Even Kathleen's too big for a stroller now."

Well maybe. Kathleen, our "baby," turned 6 last month. She shouldn't need a stroller this spring. But on our seashore vacation just last summer, the collapsible stroller Rich is so eager to pitch was a lifesaver. After a long night of miniature golf, amusement rides, and sticky snacks, Kathleen stopped in the middle of the boardwalk and adamantly refused to take another step. Once in the stroller, she fell asleep within seconds.

"Let's start a 'maybe' pile," I temporize. Rich rolls his eyes, then starts digging into another box.

Rich and I never did feel the same way about strollers, I remind myself as I sort through some old gardening tools and seed packets. To him our strollers - we went through several - were just one more piece of bulky baby equipment, slowing him down. He hated having to bypass the shiny, quick escalators at a mall, for instance, to search long and hard - while our two daughters squirmed and fretted in their double stroller - for the clunky, slow elevators always hidden in the back of stores.

To me, though, strollers meant freedom. I still remember how elated I felt, years ago, on an unseasonably warm day in February as I bundled up Elizabeth, my older daughter, then only a few months old. After snipping off the tags from her brand-new stroller, I settled her in carefully, and we hit the streets of our city neighborhood. It was my first trip outside in weeks. We both enjoyed the change of scene so much that I decided I was one stay-at-home mom who wasn't going to, well, stay at home.

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