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My Mad Case of Stroller Envy: How I Almost Spent $900 on a Stroller

When I became a mom, I had certain expectations for ways that my life would change. Sleep deprivation was a given. My home would be a mess. I'd be doing laundry all the time, I'd learn the names of all the characters on Yo Gabba Gabba, and eventually there would be crayon on the walls and Legos under my feet to step on in the dark. I was prepared for all of that.

What I didn't expect — what I was not at all prepared for — was to come down with a white-knuckled, jaw-clenched, green-eyed case of Stroller Envy.

It didn't start right away. Before my son was born, I'd added a stroller to my baby registry. It wasn't anything fancy, but it matched the carseat I'd chosen, and it had positive reviews on Amazon. My mother, beside herself at the impending arrival of her first grandchild, bought it immediately. Great! That was done, all settled before my baby bump was even visible to any but the most focused sets of eyes.

But then, some months later, my son was born, and after a few days, my husband and I set out to take him on his first stroll around our neighborhood in Queens, New York. I had no doubt that my baby was the cutest one on the streets (I think every parent knows that feeling), but before long, I was hyper aware that our stroller was, frankly, completely lame.

The blue and green canopy that had seemed so fetching before looked garish. The wheels were too big — the entire stroller was too big, boxy, and utterly inelegant. The cup holders built into the handle were too shallow, so that my water bottle rattled around as I pushed my stroller sheepishly down the block.

Meanwhile, all around us — and how had I never noticed this before? — other parents were gliding around, pushing their babies in classy, streamlined strollers that moved smoothly and silently along the sidewalk, looking more like the prototypes of some futuristic car than anything as painfully utilitarian as baby gear.

How had I not done more research? Why had I jumped on the first stroller that seemed suitable? And how quickly could I correct this gross oversight on my part?

Maybe it's not like this everywhere. Maybe on the streets of Dubuque or Ocala or even Los Angeles, it's easy to push a kid in the Honda of strollers without having to gaze longingly at the Cadillacs and Lamborghinis all around. New York City is so pedestrian-oriented that kids are more likely to travel by stroller than by car, so maybe it's not surprising that parents here are inclined to go for broke when it comes to strollers.

And "go for broke," it turns out, might be a pretty apt description. Once I started researching the strollers that were inspiring such lust in me, I realized that they were all over $500, with some as high as $800. Right around the same time, Victoria Beckham made headlines for the $900 custom iCandy Peach she'd purchased for her daughter, Harper. Apparently, if I wanted to push my son around in a fancy stroller, we'd have to pay fancy prices. Dropping five hundred bucks on a stroller was out of the question, my husband said, and I grudgingly had to agree.

We did, eventually, upgrade our stroller to something a little lighter and more appropriate for the city streets. Sure, I'm on my third clip-on cup holder, because the model we bought doesn't have one built in, but for the most part, it's better. I still ogle the high-class strollers we see on the street, but at least I no longer feel like a bull in a china shop while trying to wheel a clunky monstrosity through the early-morning crowd at Starbucks. Most importantly, my kid is happy as a clam in the stroller we have now — although to be honest, he was perfectly content with the first one.

But really, he's not even 2 yet, what does he know?!

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03.5.2013 / 06:15 AM EDT by Tracy Fusaro
Related: Moms

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