I don’t consider myself an overly sentimental person. My husband might disagree with that statement but I might counter-argue that’s only because he can be at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Three of my babies were true surprises (“Hi, can you come pick up this baby? How about in an hour?”). Our first two were our planned biological babies. Next was our first adopted son whom we were waiting for but didn’t expect him to be an infant. We said we were willing to foster and hopefully adopt a child aged 0-4 assuming a toddler would be placed with us. The next two we found about when we got calls saying, “there’s a baby sibling, will you take him/her?”
Since I didn’t always know we were having another baby and we had very little storage space, I got rid of outgrown clothes and gear as soon as possible (See? Not overly sentimental.) Because of that, there is very little that all five of my babies wore or used. Actually, there is one thing. My number one garage sale score ever . . . an old-fashioned navy blue pram.
It was probably around 1998 when I found it. I was already living with my husband and knew we’d have a family together some day but not yet. We went to a sale being held at the Municipal Building in my parents’ township. It was late in the day and they were trying to get rid of everything. As soon as we walked in the door my eyes were drawn to the beautiful navy blue pram, just like the ones I saw so many babies riding in when I was an exchange student in Spain.
I didn’t think (not-yet-a) Daddy-O would be thrilled with that purchase but then—oh but then the person running the sale announced, “EVERYTHING LEFT HAS BEEN MARKED DOWN TO ONE DOLLAR” I made a beeline to the stroller and wrapped my arms around it.
“Even this??? Yes??? SOLD!”
We brought it back to my parents’ house and I wheeled it around to show it off.
“Looks good on you, Gina,” my Grandmother Babci said.
“Not yet,” I smiled.
“Not yet,” Daddy-O wholeheartedly concurred.
Then the babies came. We lived in a small town for the first two and I’d wheel them to the post office, the bakery, the farm stand. We moved out of town and the other three came. I still used it to push the new babies around the neighborhood but it mostly came in handy as a downstairs napping spot for those sleepy infants. I have a picture (one of my all-time favorites) of 4-year-old G taking a sneaky peek into the pram to see the new sleeping baby that turned him into a big brother.
Between babies, there was the problem of where to store it. I tried our creepy basement but it started to get moldy and needed to be scrubbed.
I didn’t trust the shed as mice had destroyed a few things we stored there.
We didn’t have an attic.
We decided to put it into Babci’s basement, next to the green pram my mother used for my three sisters and myself and the tiny toy pram we used to play with baby dolls in Babci’s basement with.
So that is where it spent three and a half years. After Babci’s death we had the daunting task of cleaning out 97 years worth of acquisitions. She used to sometimes look around at all she had collected and say, “When I die you’re going to say ‘why the hell did she have all this stuff?’” And while we were cleaning her house, we did indeed say that. (She used to also say, if someone was admiring something, “If I die tomorrow you can have it.” We miss that whippersnapper so much.)
Dutifully I helped sort and clean and claim and donate and trash from up in the attic to down in the basement. Finally the house was almost empty and then it was sold. The time came to reclaim the last item I had stored there: the pram. I considered it might be time to get rid of it but decided I just couldn’t. First of all, Murphy’s Law dictates that if I got rid of it I’d surely get a call about another baby. Second of all, it’s the only thing all my babies used! And what on Earth will my Grandbabies nap in?? Lastly, of course, even though it’s symbolic of my relationship with my infants, it also made me feel a connection to my Grandmother, whom I miss terribly. She was the one who told me it looked good on me. She was the one who famously adored babies. It was her house where it was stored.
I brought it home and aired it out on the deck to get rid of the musty smell. I wondered where I’d be able to store it now but then remembered that since we finished the addition we actually had some storage space—an attic over the boys’ new bedroom. Anything that goes up there must be hoisted up a very rickety wooden ladder and pushed through the rectangular opening. I wasn’t sure it would work.
My less-sentimental-than-me husband, to his credit, waited a few days before asking, “So what are you going to do with this thing now, G?” and I was sure he was going to try to convince me to get rid of it.
“Maybe . . . put it in the attic?” I cringed, waiting.
“Does it collapse at all?”
“A little bit.”
“Going to be tricky . . . but it should work.”
Oh you silly, silly man. Because now this maybe-a-little-more-sentimental-than-I-care-to-admit Mama has yet another reason to not ever want to get rid of that giant stroller. First it was because it was something all my babies used and because it reminded me of my childhood (being pushed in one myself and playing with one with my dolls). Then it was because it made me feel a connection to Babci, whom I miss terribly. And now there’s one more reason: because it makes me fall in love with my husband a little more (again).
Gina Sampaio is a lifelong actress and activist living in New Jersey with her husband and five kids. She writes and performs about her daily adventures with kids, navigating a post-foster care transracial open adoption and the ongoing journey of surviving a sexual assault. Her writing has appeared on Huffington Post and Mamalode and she was a member of the 2014 North Jersey Listen To Your Mother cast. Check out Gina on her website Sister Serendip and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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