Close enough to kiss. Breathe in the sweet newborn smell. That new little body wrapped on your chest. Those sweet cheeks are pressed against your skin. Those little fingers. Those little toes. Time stands still for just a minute or two. There are days when they seem to cry for hours on end until someone holds them or wears them. And sometimes even that doesn’t always do the trick but that little being needs you and you’re there for them. And when they relax, you can relax.
[Image provided by Courtney Scruggs. A white woman wearing her toddler on her back in a natty topographical map patterned woven wrap and her newborn on her front in a navy and silver abstract patterned woven wrap. A brick wall and part if a kitchen can be seen in the background.]
Fast forward to toddlerhood. Wrangling the small human with big feelings. Maybe you’re going in and out of the grocery store or market and there are bags to carry or a cart to push. Maybe you’re attempting a walk on a beautiful day with your little one(s) and would like it to be leisurely and hands-free to hold your beverage. Maybe you’re trying to survive a visit to the doctor’s office...and the trip to Meltdown City afterwards. Maybe it’s time to get a meal on the table and everyone’s hangry and there’s someone clinging to your legs and/or pulling on your shirt and/or has so much to say you can’t tell what they’re even saying through the tears and frustration (and sometimes we join them in those tears and that’s okay!).
Grab that carrier. Put McGrumpy up and feel those muscles slowly relax. That once thrashing body will settle into their seat. Those arms that were waving around wildly (and maybe even pulling your hair), might slow down and tuck themselves in or just slowly dangle down at the sides. You might even get a hug or a little pat on the arm or a kiss on your neck. Thank you. Thank you for being here for me.
[Image provided by Wraps, Slings and Harmony of a fat bespectacled Black mom wearing her Afro-Latino toddler in a yellow and white windmill patterned wrap. The toddler is looking at the TV over his mother's shoulder as she looks at the camera with an expression that says "why are you still awake child?" She is hoping for a wrap nap but at the moment sleep eludes her and the child.]
Breathe. Everyone, just breathe.
[Image provided by Slings And Smiles. 3 photo collage of a black woman with shoulder length beaded locs wearing a light brown toddler on her front in a white woven wrap with denim windmills. The large left photo, the woman smiles at the camera, the toddler looks at the kitchen counter behind them. The small upper right photo is of the wrap on the child's back and a red mug with a bijou B and sewing needle logo. The bottom right photo is of the woman kissing the toddler's cheek.]
Blink. Newborn. Toddler. Preschooler. Kindergartener. Grade School. Blink. Where did the time go? Maybe today it’s that day to walk to the bus stop together. Maybe a school-age child is on your back. Maybe a school-age child is walking next to you hand in hand (or walking five steps ahead of you) while you wear another child.
[Image provided by Jess Helle-Morrissey. Collage of images shows: 1) twin first-graders walking down a sidewalk toward their bus stop. They wear fall coats and backpacks and are followed several yards behind by their 2-year-old sister, trying to keep up with them. 2) a white-skinned woman with short curly brownish hair stands outdoors on a sunny day in front of green foliage and smiles at the camera. She wears a smiling toddler on her back in a maroon and white woven wrap featuring a retro starburst pattern. 3) the same woman faces the camera sitting by herself in an easy chair and wears an autumnal-colored handwoven cowl. She is “cheers-ing” the camera with a dark brown mug of coffee that reads, “wear babies.”]
Transitions come and go just like the seasons come and go and our hearts go on emotional roller coasters. Often with transitions come big feelings for both ourselves and our little ones. Wearing babies/toddlers/children goes so beyond just “wearing babies/toddlers/children.” We wear to re-group and start over and keep going. We wear to go and wear to stay. We wear for ourselves too. May wearing be part of your journey through caregiverhood and equip you with the tools you need to survive and maybe even thrive. #MeltAwayTheMeltdowns. You’ve got this!
[Image provided by Emily Joy Hartford. A bespectacled, dark haired, white woman wears her white baby on her hip in a purple and ecru windmills pattern ring sling. They are outside and smiling.]