It was Saturday morning, and tiny pinpricks of early light had just begun to filter into my darkened bedroom. I awakened to the familiar sound of little feet padding across the hallway accompanied by an unfamiliar sound I couldn’t quite identify. The door creaked open, and I peeked sleepily from beneath the covers. Standing before me was my five-year-old daughter, Sequoia, proudly gripping the handle of a brand new doll stroller.
A week earlier she had come to me excitedly proclaiming that she knew exactly what she wanted to buy with the birthday money she’d been saving. Would I help her find what she was looking for? With Sequoia perched anxiously on the edge of my lap we had carefully scoured the internet together. We examined strollers with pretty pink polka dots, purple flowers, and tiny red hearts. But my daughter was not impressed. Ever-practical, she wanted her stroller to look and function just like the real thing. It needed to be an authentic double jogger complete with a canvas cover, three tires, and spoked rims. So we kept searching. And eventually, Amazon came through.
I felt almost giddy when I heard the crunch of gravel and the faint thud of a package hitting the porch a few nights later. With trembling hands, I tore open the box, and began to tackle the ever-challenging matter of assembly. An hour and several inaudible curse words later I sat marveling at my handiwork. Then I quietly slipped the stroller into my daughter’s bedroom as she slept. The jogger would be the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes.
I’ll readily admit that my enthusiasm for children’s toys is typically reserved for well-written books and educational board games, along with an occasional thrift store treasure. But there was something contagious about Sequoia’s excitement over this stroller. Perhaps I was feeling more than a little nostalgic after having reluctantly parted ways with my own jogging stroller just a few months before. It was as if in doing so I had officially acknowledged that my children were growing up. That there would be no future babies for me to push. Part of me mourned the loss of those toddler years when my daughters and I had spent hours exploring hiking trails and country roads together, stopping along the way to pick blackberries or pet horses or to watch a garter snake sunning itself in the grass. Bikes had long since replaced our family’s need for a stroller, and schoolwork and soccer practices now filled much of our daylight hours. Would my girls even remember those early adventures we’d once shared?
I needn’t have worried, though, as that Saturday’s events would attest.
I couldn’t help but smile groggily as Sequoia excitedly paraded her stroller around my bedroom. She was fully dressed in what I can only assume she viewed as a proper “jogging outfit.” Puma sweatpants. An Under Armour t-shirt. Nike tennies. She’d even brushed her own hair up into a slightly lopsided but nonetheless impressive pony tail.
“Come on mom, I’m ready to take my babies out into nature!”
Two of her favorite dolls had been securely buckled into the stroller seats with baby blankets tucked tightly around each of them. A bulging diaper bag dangled from the stroller’s handle. This girl was prepared.
“It’s going to be pretty cold out there,” I said, reluctant to leave my cozy bed.
My daughter assured me that I need not worry because she had dressed her babies very warmly. And with that, it’s settled. As soon as we were out the door Sequoia took off at a steady run. I could tell she wanted to make sure this jogging stroller lived up to its name. She headed for the trails down by the river, her breath rising in steamy puffs. I marveled at her endurance, at the sturdiness of her short muscular legs. Eventually she slowed her pace, pausing along the trail to show her babies a patch of tiny mushrooms, a shiny beetle, an especially pretty leaf.
By the time we headed for home my hands were frozen, but my Mama heart is warm. The memories we made together when she was younger are part of her now, and she’s making new ones all her own.
Kelsie Kypreos’ favorite way to find herself is by getting lost in a good book (the sadder the better). Her favorite literary journeys take place in the sunshine, with plenty of chocolate for sustenance. She is lucky mama to two spirited daughters with whom every day is a new adventure. Kelsie and her family recently built their forever home on 20 acres in the Cascade foothills. She looks forward to a lifetime of exploring the wilderness right outside her backdoor.