The Last of the Baby Snuggles

(Many thanks to @Moderately Granola Mom for sharing a window into what babywearing and toddlerwearing have looked like for her in a time of transition for her child ... and her!)

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it did: My baby turned into a kid. I remember when he was a newborn and people said that the time would fly by and to cherish every moment, and I thought they were just exaggerating. I’ve found that for me, the pace at which time moves since becoming a mother seems to come in spurts. 0-3 months in a blink, 4-9 at a glacial pace, 9-18 months seemed about normal, and 18-30 months was full of sunny days and mostly clear skies. But something odd happened starting around then: my son suddenly stopped being a baby. He could feed himself, choose his own clothes, take himself potty without even telling me, I no longer had to follow behind him on the playground to keep him from flinging himself off the edge, and a few weeks ago he even started riding a two-wheeler without training wheels.

I am the mother of a Velcro baby. I’m convinced that he was completely unaware that his umbilical cord had been cut until he was around 2. Some days, I loved it, and on others it was a struggle, but I’m beyond grateful for the baby that I was given. My arms may have actually fallen off without carriers to give them a break. But now it seems that my Velcro baby’s hook and loop, just like those pesky cloth diaper tabs, has stopped being quite so sticky. Deciding to wean was really hard, but I had severe nursing aversion that started during toddlerhood and I needed it to happen. He took it pretty well, but I really struggled with the post-nursing blues. My hormones do not like rebalancing and as a mother who relied heavily on breastfeeding as a source of not only nutrition for my child but also comfort, weaning led to a radical shift in my daily parenting. All at once, my son was happy to stay and play at a friend’s house without me, stayed home alone with daddy while I took a trip, and he was surviving without nursies. It was what I wanted, but I had no idea how it would make me feel less needed.

Now that he’s weaned, the only snuggles that I get are when babywearing and right before bed when he promises to lie very still if I won’t go away. I’ll admit that I love to let that time stretch on longer than is necessary. We don’t wear for hours-long stretches anymore now that he enjoys running ahead on the hiking trails and walking to the bakery by his ”own self”, but we still wear in the parking lot, at Target, when waking up slowly, and in new environments. On his disastrous first day of preschool (more on that later) it was our favorite Bijou ring sling that allowed him to stay for the whole morning after I was recalled to reassure him that Daniel Tiger’s smash hit Grown-ups Come Back was not a lie.

Big Kid 3

Image of an indoor selfie of a Black woman making a sad face wearing her toddler on her hip in a Bijou ring sling. He lasted 1.25 hours into Day 1 of Preschool.

It’s been 4 months since his first day of preschool and he still wants to be worn most days after school while we walk the dog and he tells me about the fun he had and who did something that annoyed him at school. He still needs me. Sometimes when you’re a crunchy caregiver, especially a practitioner of attachment parenting, it’s easy to forget that the practices are really just tools to help you get better acquainted with one another. They’re there to help you build relationship and that relationship persists long after the need for bed-sharing or breastfeeding or even babywearing. I’m grateful to have the tools in my toolbox and that some of them still bring us comfort. I can see our babywearing days starting to wind down, but the fact that he sometimes just wants to hold a wrap while he’s falling asleep in the car or lay in a wrap hammock while he reads makes me so happy. When he sees a crying baby and tells me that baby needs uppies or tends to his “sad” stuffed animals by carrying them in his ring sling (complete with bouncing and butt pats), I know that babywearing is going to be a part of his future. His wraps are more than just pieces of cloth, they’re an extension of my love and the fond memories that we’ve created.
Image in a car seat of a toddler using a red and white woven wrap as a car blanket. 

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