"As she lifted the pram into the boot of her car, I had to fight the rising urge to ask for it back."
For the purposes of this article, there are two things you need to know about me:
- When it comes to having children, we are "one and done".
- I secretly aspire to be Marie Kondo and am happy to list "decluttering" as one of my hobbies.
Which is why I surprised myself with the upswell of emotions I felt a few weeks ago.
From punching in at the lightweight division for most of his early life, Elliott, my first-and-only child, has more than made up for it in recent times. Just like any other growing four-year-old, he's gaining weight fast and rapidly reaching the maximum weight his pram can handle.
Also, thankfully, since the start of this year, he's not only become increasingly mobile, but is actually willing to walk on his own two feet for longer distances and more often. Note that I said "more often", not "all the time". He has been known to helpfully relieve me of whatever I'm holding by taking it from me to hand to his father, only to run back to me grinning, with his arms stretched upwards, declaring, "Bao bao!" ("Carry" in Chinese. He doesn't usually choose to speak Chinese, but knows he gains brownie points with me when he does. He also obviously knows who is more willing to give in to his requests.)
All of this means Elliott's bright red pram has pretty much been sitting, unused and gathering dust, in the common foyer area of our apartment block for a while.
One day, after months of procrastination, I was finally organised—and motivated—enough to give the pram a good wash, take some photos and list it up on Facebook Marketplace for sale. Not long after, someone contacted me, interested in buying the pram, and we set up a time for her to come by to check it out.
Everything went well until I started showing her all of the pram's various functions and how to use them. It had been several months since I had last used the pram, but where memory may have failed me, muscle memory didn't.
And then I was almost paralysed by the flood of memories that came rushing back.
I remember the days (yes, plural) my husband and I spent at the baby shop, test driving all the prams on sale, marvelling at the range, astounded by the cost, confused by all the fandangled features, while trying to decide on the best pram (that fit within our budget) for our much-anticipated new baby.
I remember being eight months pregnant, limping over (my belly was so big I not only ended up with bad pelvic pain, my knee decided to give way as well) to the breastfeeding chairs section of the shop, nestling into the soft cushions, and leaving my husband to push prams all over the shop.
I remember drifting into a dreamlike state while alternating between gently rubbing my belly and cradling it, imagining how my life would change in a few weeks and wondering what my little baby would look like—and all the places I would take it (we kept baby's gender a surprise) while on maternity leave (ah, the naivety and optimism of a first-time mum).
I remember just how teeny-tiny Elliott looked when we first tenderly and carefully placed him in the pram, the day we were leaving the hospital, about to start our new lives as a family of three.
Elliott the day he came home from the hospital. Yes, he's in there!
I remember the days when I would push him around and getting him to sleep was the only destination in mind! And then constantly peeking in by lifting the muslin wrap "curtain" to ensure he was still asleep—and desperately missing him, yet oh-so-thankful his eyes were still closed.
I remember how important it was for me to support his neck when placing him in the pram as a newborn, to ensure the shoulder straps were on when he sat in there as a baby who loved hurling himself forwards without care, and to hold on to the pram as counterbalance when he insisted on climbing in himself as a headstrong toddler.
I remember measuring how much he'd grown based on how much space he filled in the pram.
I remember the meals he would have in the pram: starting with the bottles which he would eventually come to hold himself, then finger foods as we started the weaning journey, and finally when we would use it simply as a high chair while having meals at restaurants.
I remember wishing we had a bigger car so that I didn't have to separate the seat part from the frame every time I wanted to put the pram into the boot—and how much it resembled a game of Tetris whenever we did a big grocery shop.
I remember all the adventures we had at the beach, in the park, visiting family, holidays overseas . . . where the pram made it so much easier to bring Elliott along—and the not-so-convenient stairs, snow-covered paths and rock-filled roads where we needed two people to carry the pram—with Elliott in it—off the ground.
Elliott on our very first trip out of the house after we brought him home.
I remember wishing the day would come when I would no longer have to lug the chunk of metal around, complete with nappy bag accessories, bottle feeding extras and anything else we could fit in the pram basket.
I remember when the day finally arrived when I tried leaving the house without a pram and I had no idea where to put all the stuff that a little person needed but could/would not carry. But the fact I didn't have to lift, fold, unfold, push and pull a pram around gave me such an incredible sense of freedom . . . until Elliott's little legs tired (which didn't take long) and I wished I had brought the pram with me.
As I showed the buyer the pram's various functions, I remembered how my baby was technically no longer a baby but a boy.
A boy who feeds and dresses himself—sometimes in clothes that are back-to-front and inside-out, but hey, he's clothed.
A boy who will no longer fit on my lap (he already doesn't really) when I'm reading to him and who would soon prefer to read alone, quietly, in his own room.
A boy who currently tells me he wants to be a kind boy and volunteers to help with household chores, declaring, "I want to help, Mummy." (Long may that last.)
A boy who loves going to preschool and is excited about the prospects of attending "big school". And then high school and maybe even university?
A boy who exchanged his four-wheeled pram for a two-wheeled bicycle, and who would trade that in soon—far too soon—for another four-wheeled vehicle, but with an engine this time.
And so, as the buyer said she would buy the pram and proceeded to lift it into the boot of her car, I had to fight the rising urge to ask for it back, or even worse, snatch it from her hands.
I'll miss the pram for what it represented but most of all, I'll miss my baby, but my baby has to grow up and so as I watch her drive away, I take in a deep breath, and resolve to give my baby a big hug when he comes home from preschool that afternoon.
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