WRITTEN BY Aileen Kelly
The Black Stroller
The near ubiquitous black stroller of today was once a rarity. When I was pregnant with my older son, he was born in June of 1995, I had to buy a stroller. Most everything the boy used was second hand. We were broke and people were very generous. There were a few things we weren’t able to get second hand and a stroller was one of them which was lucky since strollers are one of the few baby things I think it is fun to shop for.
So we went to a store that specialized in baby stuff. This was not a fancy boutique. In 1995 there were still stand alone stores that sold reasonably priced strollers used to schlep your baby around. Although Amazon opened for business in July of 1994, I didn’t know it existed and I don’t know that they sold strollers. I don’t even know if Target sold strollers. I bought Older Son’s crib at Montgomery Wards. It was white, it was metal, it looked like something out of a 1940s pediatric ward. Cribs were usually wood or white.
And most strollers came in blue, pink or yellow.
We knew it was a boy so we got a blue one, the darker color would hide the dirt. I did not know that. I knew next to nothing about babies and their stuff and how unbelievably filthy that stuff got. The lady who worked at the store told me and I believed her because my mom wasn’t there and I couldn’t text her a picture and ask what she thought.
I will tell you the color of stroller I did not see.
Maybe there were black strollers. But most of them were in shades of eye watering pink, blue, yellow or, in a few cases, some unfortunate combination of the three. There were ugly. But what did we know? We were only 4 years out of the 1980s and colors hadn’t yet calmed down, at least in the baby product department. It was as if you were preparing your kid for a future as a clown.
Diaper bags were just as bad.
And were there diaper bags designed and sold specifically to dads?
It was rare to see a man pushing a stroller. You saw them but they were usually a placeholder, just filling in while the mom chased a toddler into traffic or dragged a screaming 3 year old behind a cement planter to lecture or, let’s be honest, spank. The color of the stroller was meant to signal the gender of the child within rather than the gender of the person at the helm.
You will still see pink and blue strollers. But when you see a sea of strollers at Disneyland, the overwhelming color is black.
I have a theory.
Dads push strollers waaaaaay more often than they used to. A dude taking the handles of a double wide isn’t a placeholder. He’s probably been there all day. He’s set the brake and chased the toddler into traffic then strapped the toddler in while the 3 year old screamed bloody murder. And the diaper bag is probably gender neutral as well. Black or dark grey or maybe maroon.
Do I care what color strollers are? No. And diaper bags are a waste of money. Get a good carry on or do what I did when older son was born and go to Army surplus and get an olive green canvas bag for 3 bucks.
No, don’t do that. You’re an adult. Get a new bag with one of those pads you can put the baby on while changing them and then toss it in the washer. The pad, not the baby. (Get one of those whale shaped tubs for the baby. The baby looks funny in it.)
Dads do more now than ever before. Actually, I don’t know how much 13th century dads did so I’ll only say that dads do a lot more than they did when Older Son was a baby. And they do a huge amount more than they did when I was a baby. The fact Older Son’s dad was happy to push the stroller blew my mom’s mind, even though my dad was super helpful when I was a kid.
We bitch and moan a lot about how dads get it easy. And in some ways a good portion of them do. But I want to be sure to point out that a dad today is very different than a dad of even 20 years ago.
Not better, just different.
Okay. Maybe somewhat better.
And so when I see a sea of black strollers, I think about what I am seeing means. More and more Dads are at the helm, steering the ship of kids through the choppy waters of childhood, doing the absolute best they can.
We see you working.