The Last Time

Last week I opened the car boot to find that Jack's pushchair had been left folded up and unused in there for so long that it was beginning to grow a layer of mould. Grim, I know. At first I was annoyed with myself and started trying to think of the best ways get it clean. Then I realised that it actually doesn't matter too much since Jack probably won't use it again now. He turns 4 next month and prefers to walk everywhere. And as his build is closer to that of a 5 year old, I doubt he'd fit in it even if he wanted to.

It dawned on me that my pram pushing days are over. And honestly, I felt quite sad about it.

We've had the same pushchair since he was born. It's one of those three wheelers that reclines when they're babies but is essentially a stroller that will also see you through the toddler years. I remember the first time I ever took Jack out in it. He must have been a week or so old and I think it was the first time we'd left the house since he was born. I was still achey and sore from the C-section but I wrapped him up in a woolly hat and cardy and we trundled up the road to my mum's house. All the way there his dad and I bickered about who would push him - "you've had a go, it's my turn now" - occasionally veering off onto a grass verge while this tiny little boy-child slept soundly inside.

Of course, the novelty wore off. Folding and unfolding, strapping and unstrapping, hauling it in and out of the boot of my Nissan Micra all became part of our everyday routine. Soon I was a pro at weaving in and out of shop rails, navigating us into the last tiny space in department store lifts amongst the other buggies/wheelchairs and balancing everything from shopping bags, teddy bears and swimming towels on top of the pushchair. The miles I must have wracked up wheeling him around shopping centres, car parks, supermarkets, seasides, garden centres, country paths and convoys with other pram pushing mothers. The pushchair came abroad with us twice and I still remember the sickening moment I struggled to push it up a particularly steep hill in Whitby and, for a split second, genuinely believed we were both going to roll backwards.

It seems silly to get nostalgic over a mouldy old pushchair. But I suppose it symbolises something more. It got me thinking about a poem I've seen doing the rounds on Facebook lately called The Last Time - you can read it here - which is basically about appreciating every moment because all too soon your kids will grow up and you'll never get this time with them back again. It happens so quickly, sometimes without you even noticing. I think my heart broke a little bit when I read the part about putting them down one day and never picking them up again. I might remember the first time I took Jack out in the pushchair but I don't remember the last time, even though it must have only been a few months ago. I certainly didn't realise it was the last time. If I had I might have walked a bit further or made him cackle by running down some ramps or just sat and marveled at how his long legs, hanging off the end of the pushchair were only inches from the floor now.

So although sometimes the days feel long and draining and unrewarding, I'm going to try to appreciate every one because honestly, you never really know when the last time is going to be.


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