I first learned about Valco strollers from my friend Peggy, also a mom to a toddler and newborn twins. I ran into her (and her fabulous stroller) at Cincinnati Children’s Museum. She found hers on eBay—in Florida. Friends, while vacationing in Florida, picked it up and drove it back to Fort Thomas for her. I found mine on Craigslist—in Baltimore. My mother-in-law graciously drove a good hour to pick it up for me, strapped it on top of her car and then drove it home. Several weeks later my in-laws drove it to Fort Thomas for me.
It’s not that Valco strollers are impossible to find. You can buy them new. But they’re expensive. Really, really expensive. Like, my-dad’s-pretty-sure-my-sister’s-first-car-cost-less-than-that expensive. But if you’re lucky—and determined enough—to find one used, they’re so very much worth it. But I say lucky, and determined, because they’re difficult to find. And you have to be quick. And willing to ask family and friends who live outside of Cincinnati (I never see them listed for sale, used, in Cincinnati) to go to some stranger’s house, and buy and transport it for you (and even folded, it’s big). And you have to negotiate accessories—or be willing to shell out a pretty penny for them (for example, the toddler seat alone runs $100 new). And finally, you have to be willing to answer strangers’ questions about your stroller when pushing it in public, because everyone asks questions about it—this can be difficult for someone who mostly just smiles at strangers. But it’s all so very much worth it.
A regular triple stroller (three seats front-to-back or three seats side-to-side) is simply too big for me. And a double stroller is problematic when Sophie decides she no longer wants to walk or she no longer wants to hold my hand or I’m in a crowded, high-traffic place. But this ingenious thing has what they call a toddler seat—I put the boys in the side-by-side double stroller (which easily fits through doors) and Sophie sits on top of them, in what we jokingly call her throne—the toddler seat. She loves it. The boys are comfortable thanks to the newborn headrests and padded straps. It steers like a dream.
Before kids I probably would have silently made fun of women who got so worked up about strollers. Before kids I probably would have thought $50 a reasonable amount of money to spend on something I’ll only use a few years, once or twice a day (if that). Before kids I probably wouldn’t have finished reading this post. But now that I have kids, an easy way to get out of the house, go places, explore and see becomes so necessary—not only for me, but also, I believe, my children. And while that may sound overly dramatic, it truly is difficult to go somewhere alone, with a toddler who needs hand-holding and two babies who can’t yet walk, without a contraption of some sort. My car requires car seats. I can’t bike with all of them. I can’t hold all of them. I can’t wear all of them. But with this, I can push all of them. And thus, I feel free.
“I have always had strong maternal instincts. Even when I was still a child I cut out pictures of prams from newspapers and imagined the feeling of pushing my own pram through fresh winter snow and seeing the wheels’ tracks behind me in the snow.” —Agnetha Faltskog