Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stroller Status

I swear I could have written this article myself.

For months I have started and stopped a post about the strollers we push and what they say about us. The problem is, stereotypes do not always hold true. Many moms I know shelled out big for the Bugaboo and might be judged as one of "them"--a status-obsessed woman of leisure--when in fact, they just wanted the best stroller available.

But it is hard to deny that strollers are the key status symbol when it comes to raising a baby in a city. Nothing says "my baby deserves the best" than a $1,000 ride. When I was pregnant, I researched meticulously. At first, I assumed I would get the Bugaboo. I don't want to be an image obsessed material girl. But I have my moments (as do most people who are honest with themselves). The more research I did, the more I realized that was not the stroller that made sense for us. I wanted something sportier, something that would adjust as our family grew. And so, we bought the Phil and Ted's

At least once every walk I get stopped by people who ask about my stroller--how does it handle? Does the sun canopy keep the sun out of her eyes? Can you run with it? I have only had one disparaging comment from a man no less who snidely asked why my baby needed such "an expensive ride." I had no answer. "It was gift," I explained.

The stroller is damn near perfect. I love it. I can push it with one hand, I can take my strolleraerobics course, I can jog (although I don't. I have a jogger for this). It goes on any terrain. Samara loves it and it has worked since she was a newborn. My only gripes are that it is missing a cup holder and the storage space is not on par with my friend's strollers. All that said, is it worth the $500+ price tag? Yes. To me, it was. Of course, I did not spend my own money on it.

It seems stroller really are the new status symbols on the block. Forget the Lexus or Mercedes. It's all about the Bugaboo or BOB. Women in my mommy classes are identified by what stroller they drive. "Oh yeah, she's the blond with the pink and orange Bugaboo." Or, "You mean the Graco lady?"

People feel they need to apologize or make excuses for shelling out the big dough. Last week I went to brunch with an old friend who has a Bugaboo. "I said we needed the Graco, but we live in the city. We finally caved and bought the Bugaboo after one too many stuck wheels," she explained, clearly embarrassed by what she felt the stroller connotes.

But there was no need to explain. She was right. The cheaper strollers have cheaper parts--not a problem if you live in suburbia and drive to the mall and walking paths. But in the city--especially cobblestone sidewalked cities like Boston--big rubber tires that can take rough terrain are the way to go. And mostly, that means coming up with the cash.

"It is an investment," one mother explained to me, but she also said she would not have bought the Bugaboo if she also thought she would have to have a fleet of other strollers to go with it. "We bought this one because we hoped it would be our only one." And it is true. Despite my best intentions to use my stroller for everything, I finally caved and bought a Baby Jogger stroller two weeks ago when it became clear that the Phil and Ted's was not built to sustain 40+ miles a week.

All that said, my "upper middle" stroller suits me. I enjoy what it says about me--athletic, practical, planning to have a second baby, comfortable. And somehow I don't feel quite as bad because I did not go all out. No matter how expensive my baby's current ride, it pales in comparison to the cost of the upper echelon of baby transport systems.

And besides, it was a gift.


Beagle said...

Ugh . . . I can just see it now . . . another fashion arena for me to fall short in!

Glad you love yours!

Melissa R. Garrett said...

GASP! $500??!!

I see your point, though. We own a Graco, and it suits us just fine. Even better, we got it for about $70 because we hit a great sale at the perfect time. It's a stroller carseat combo. Two years later, it's still great. However, we only use it when going to the mall which, with three kids, is never!

I have a SIL who lives in Dublin, and she walks EVERYWHERE with her three kids. Because of that, she has had to shell out loads of money on strollers just because they keep breaking down. In her case, a high-quality, more expensive stroller makes perfect sense.

With that said, I think it is sad that one mother would judge another because of the stroller she pushes. That makes me want to stick a finger down my throat, roll my eyes, and scream, "Get over yourself already!" I love my Grace ;-)

Kristi said...

I have a Graco combo stroller-it fit Isabella's infant seat, and now she sits in it (and I use the term "sits" very loosely, as most of the time she's writhing around trying to escape it while screaming at the top of her lungs). Perhaps she would prefer a high-end ride. At this point, I would shell out 3 million dollars to take a peaceful (and quiet) walk with her.

halloweenlover said...

Love the article, I never even realized. I, in fact, didn't want to buy the Bugaboo because everyone had it and I couldn't stomach the thought of being "one of them". But then, we test-drove tons of strollers, TONS, because I definitely wanted the best, and for us, the Bugaboo ended up being the best. I adore my stroller, and Gabe loves it too, thankfully.

I'm tempted to check out a jogging stroller, though, even though I hardly jog at all! ; )