How to Wear a Baby (and why)
When I was 25, I had one baby, and he made me giggle so much, and I made him organic baby food while he sneaked snacks from the doggie bowl. We were having conversations before he turned one. He slept through the night very early, and I was a proud babywising mama. I scheduled feeding, playing, and sleeping because I thought it led to my freedom and his, too. My world-wise baby would self soothe. He would break away when the time is right, not be spoiled – get it for himself.
Now he’s almost seven, his lanky legs, the soles of his feet always dirt black. His grown-up teeth are huge, and he smiles like crazy, like a happy boy. And I have few regrets.
But once I traveled to Tennessee, way down the dirt road with my baby, and in the middle of the night in the strange dark of my aunt’s house surrounded by lonely woods, we slept together in the same room, he in his pack-n-play and I in my bed. He woke, and of course so did I, and he said, “Mama?”
And I remember it so clearly. The sweet, quiet request, just that he know I’m there.
He didn’t cry. He didn’t raise his voice. He only said, “Mama? Are you there?”
And I was there. I was right there, feet away, my eyes wide open in the dark, and I held tight my covers, and I followed my rule, my way to control. I was silent. And he kept asking until he gave up and went back to sleep.
I hate that I did that and can hardly write it. I want to take his sweet face, that same one born to me first, same cheeks, same soft gray eyes. I want to take his face in my hands now and tell him I’m sorry for not wrapping him next to me and letting him know that I was right there. When he’s 17, when he’s 34, I want him to know (and grace will tell him so) that I am right here.
I am not the whole answer to my babies, but I know I’m part of God-metaphor. I know that we all can be.
I hold them now, all as much as I can while the time is mine, while the metaphor belongs to me.
So this is how I wear my Baby Titus:
#1 Make it a cute baby.
#2 Make it a cute, enjoyable sling. That is also comfy. Watch videos that tell you how to really do it. I have a pocket sling, a Moby wrap, and a silk ring sling. The Moby is super comfy but hot as fire. The ring sling is perfection in function, but it hurts my shoulder a bit after a while.
#2(a) Find matching earrings. #2(b) Maybe exercise before your baby is born so your shoulder and back aren’t wimpy.
#3 Be strong in it even if the waiter looks discouraged that you brought a baby along. Do it anyway. In Restaurants With candles?
Seth and I got to take a date Friday night. We sat in the lounge. There was loud live music. Titus never left his warm, smell good dream cloud. He may have changed the waiter’s mind about babies.
#4 Remember that you are not in control. Wearing a sling for me is about releasing the future and living now, not about holding on too tightly. It’s about enjoying where I am, the phase we’re in, the marathon of breaths, the new one studying the world and teaching me a new way to see. I’m not in control. I’m not in control. I’m not in control.
The other side of the coin here, too, is that sometimes, a mama has to put the baby down. We all feel broken about it. Sometimes the other kids need 500 things at once or you can’t wash the big nasty pot without getting hot water on his little head. Sometimes a baby gets put down and the baby cries, and glory be, the baby is going to be just fine. I promise.
Let’s hold the ones we can and watch the world spin on. The world doesn’t spin around the baby just because the baby gets to be held. Name a soul that doesn’t need in a set of close arms.
And now in closing, somehow this: