Unintentionally, I’ve become an advocate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to lend my voice to many meaningful causes. I’m passionate about education, music education, women’s health issues, children’s rights, Australian politics, and a whole bunch of less highbrow stuff like…..well anything that makes life easier or more meaningful, really.
But I never expected to become an advocate for baby wearing. I don’t believe I’m a parent who subscribes to a ‘method’ and up until 7 months ago, baby wearing was for hippies. I wasn’t all that informed on this issue, alright?! I’ve always said I parent according to a ‘best fit’ approach. Whatever best fits the child in that situation under these constraints and depending on a myriad of other factors is what I do. It’s usually gentle, always respectful, but I certainly haven’t filled out a questionnaire that awards me membership to a particular parenting sorority.
Baby wearing is a tool in my parenting kit and I’ve written about it before here. I use it to simplify my life, and it enables me to participate consciously in the activities my older children are involved with. Life cannot stop because I have a baby. I have two other highly articulate, energetic and inquisitive kids on board this train and in order to prevent an horrific train-wreck, I need to be involved and engaged. Constantly. Even blinking can be dangerous some days.
In a moment of quiet reflection, I realised that I am enthusiastically modelling babywearing and leading people to ask questions and get informed. Perhaps people can see that it is having a positive impact on my life. Perhaps they are aware that when Baby A is ‘up’ I can participate in conversations, play with the kids and generally, you know, interact. Perhaps they like the colours and patterns. Perhaps they wistfully remember the closeness with their own babes and wished they’d found options available to extend that precious time. I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know. People are overwhelmingly positive about baby wearing around me. I get support, I get love and I get questions. I love questions, I really do. Teachers and parents at my son’s new school fall over themselves to talk about baby wearing, to mention how wonderful and cozy Baby A looks, to tell me how happy he is. They are interested. Many mums lament how quickly they stopped carrying and many have openly expressed their sadness at not having found a more comfortable carrier. Some have borrowed wraps and some have bought their own to ruck tired toddlers along on family walks. I love this. I love inquiry. I love helping. I am a guilty, but happy enabler.
I don’t know if I’m lucky because I’ve happened upon an amazingly supportive community, or whether I’m just this odd spectacle who has fallen into a forgiving new school but either way I’ve opened a dialogue and people are talking.
You don’t need to use cloth nappies and co-sleep and do all those other things in order to baby wear. It’s a tool. Sure, it’s part of a philosophy, but last time I checked, philosophies weren’t about meeting specific criteria, so as long as you feed and clothe your smalls, I’m happy to lend you some fluff. Just ask.