When my daughter River was about three weeks, her older sister Ember and I were in serious need of a change in routine. A walk to the playground was not going to cut it this time-- we needed to emerge from the New Baby Cave and do something radical. I took her to the beach. By myself.
How does a mother survive a trip to the ocean with a three year old and a three week old? I had a plan of action, plenty of snacks, extra pairs of underwear for everyone.... and I had my wrap sling. We came, we swam, we conquered. No one drowned or disappeared or lost a sandal. Cue the superhero music.
Now I am not one of those mothers who are blessed with organizational skills that make five star generals turn green with envy. I am...scattered...more often than I would like to admit and still learning how to properly keep my home, my kids, and my husband (who needs more care and feeding than he'd like to admit). I don't have a daily planner or a dry erase board with a week's worth of projects assigned to their neat, orderly boxes.
I do have a sling.
You see, wearing my baby makes me brave. With River tucked up on my chest, a modern day papoose, I feel that I can go anywhere or do anything. I can clean house! With a newborn! I can go to the beach in the middle of tourist season! I can go grocery shopping or clothes shopping without fear! I can even go to my local writer's group without worrying whether or not my baby will meltdown in the middle of the group reading. I have my baby sing and I have my breasts and that's all I need for a happy, secure little girl.
People tell me that River seems like such a "good" baby-- a term I have never liked because what mother wants to be told her baby is "bad"-- because she is so contented. She is pretty easy going but I don't think its just her disposition that makes people marvel at how peaceful she is. For most of her day, from the time we roll out of bed until the time we tuck in for the night, she is worn. We do everything together and the benefits are already obvious. She is bright and curious about her world. The prolonged periods of fussing I expected with an infant have never happened. Nursing usually solves her moments of unhappiness and when that doesn't work, a ride in the sling is like magic.
Sometimes I wonder how much "progress" helps us as mothers. At one time, everyone wore their children. Then we became more civilized-- supposedly-- and caring for young children became more and more like a battle...parents vs. the relentless demand for attention that comes with a newborn. Popular theories advise parents to "show their kids who's boss" and "let them cry it out" and are based in the assumption that a newborn is a manipulative little tyrant. Hold your baby and you'll ruin her for sure! This same logic encourages women to force their babies onto a nursing schedule and wean early because it is more convenient than prolonged breastfeeding.
These theorists forget that maybe babies just want to be held, that maybe the Creator designed them that way. My daughter Ember was worn much of the time and breastfed until she was two and a half, and she is nothing like the spoiled, clingy baby the "experts" said I would create by these practices. I look at River and see a beautiful peace that comes when she is in the sling and I know that this is how we were designed. It just fits. Instead of controlling my life, my babywearing allows me to include River in our daily routines, meeting her needs for comfort and security while still getting my work done. It makes me believe in myself as a mother-- that yes, I can love and nurture two children and still get the dishes done most of the time.
Babywearing makes me brave.