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A Babywearing Life September 29, 2010

Next Wednesday, the 6th of October, marks the beginning of International Babywearing Week. Of course, round here every week is babywearing week. The small one will be fourteen months old at the end of IBW and he will have been carried in some kind of sling almost every day of his life.

In the early days we would tuck him, tiny and curled, into a chocolate brown peanut shell sling. So small that not even a finger or toe poked over the edge, I could walk around the local shops and often people wouldn’t even realise I was carrying a baby. Then we discovered the miracle that is the wraparound carrier – the hug a bub. A gift from the BLF, this soft and stretchy, pistachio green, organic cotton carrier was my outerwear for months. Well, not just my outerwear – small has been worn by the beloved, The Nanna, The Granny, the LMFs. Where the one-shoulder sling could be a little awkward (I always felt I needed to cradle it with my opposite arm), there was virtually nothing that couldn’t be achieved with small in the hug a bub, although I did draw the line at mowing the lawn. Before small was eight months old we had travelled overseas twice, both times taking the hug a bub instead of a pram. This was partly habit and convenience, but partly because both the beloved and I suffer acutely from Pram Shame. Pram Shame is some kind of allergic reaction to being exposed to Pram Rage, you know… ‘Out of my way! I have a pram! Coming through! I Have A Pram! MOVE! I HAVE A PRAM!’

Nearing one year old, small was starting to seem a little heavier in the hug a bub, stretching it a little more, wanting to look around a lot more. He’d got big enough that stretching around him to reach the kitchen bench, the ironing board, or the keyboard was getting harder and if he was awake and facing outwards his efforts to ‘help’ were getting downright dangerous. I really needed something I could use to carry him on my back. Now we have the Ergo Carrier, with its handy pockets for my keys and the nifty little sleeping hood. It’s fabulous. Although, when I see the group of Burmese parents who gather at our local library, their babies and toddlers tied to their backs with blankets, I wonder if I really need anything that fancy.

Why do we wear our baby? Because we wanted to Attachment Parent – even though our own version of AP has shifted and evolved over time , because it’s easy, convenient, time-saving, sanity-saving, loving, nurturing and fun. For all of these reasons and more. We want to know this tiny person intimately. We want to parent him responsively. We just love it!

So, if you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend of a baby, big or small, why not try it? Leave the pram at home. Strap your baby to your front, your back, your side and go about your business. Find a Babywearing Week event near you and meet some fellow baby-wearers.

Or join me for mine: a Babywearing Walk on Saturday the 9th of October!

International Babywearing Week

A Babes in Arms initiative, sponsored by ERGObaby

October 6-12


Money in the bank August 25, 2010

Filed under: Parenting — titchandboofer @ 7:59 am
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Ever since reading the PhD in Parenting post on Emotional Availability and Infant Sleep I have been mulling over the concept of ’emotional availability’. For us it was never an ‘option’ to parent the small one to sleep each and every time, it was instinctive. Not to digress into a lecture on infant development and mental health, but to me controlled crying (or crying-it-out, or controlled settling, or whatever incarnation it’s presented in) with a newborn is just teaching them that they can holler all they like and no-one will care. New baby humans aren’t meant to be independent. So I feed small, one of us rocks him, pats him, tucks him into his bed, sings eleventy-nine verses of Silent Night (twenty years from now I fully expect a lecture from small….how my mummies ruined Christmas by using carols to induce sleep and now I sleep through every festive season, spontaneously nodding off in shopping centres as early as October) and slowly creeps away. Sometime this takes five minutes, sometimes it takes forty-five minutes. Sometimes I go to bed and am out cold immediately, sometimes I lie there with my brain fizzing for hours, whispering at the beloved and poking her with my cold feet. See my point?

Anyway, while it is always affirming to read that your own parenting practices can have positive and specific ramifications for your child, there is more to it than just sleep quality. I was walking today and musing on a conversation the beloved and I have had many times lately, about how we really need to try to be nicer to each other, to be less snappish and more kind, less ‘get off me, I’m busy ironing’ and more ‘why yes, I am listening and appreciative of your concerns’. A snuffly small was tucked against my chest, riding high in the ergo, occasionally patting me on the cheek and ‘hhhurrrhing’ at things we passed. And I realised for the umpteenth time how open he is, how raw. Whenever I look at him he is looking to me, even if he’s seen something that interests him he looks back to me to pull my attention to it. His face is open, his eyes searching my face. He’s like we all are when we fall in love. Do you remember? When all you can see is That Person, when all you can think about is That Person, when everyone else is a little bit blurry. And if That Person doesn’t see you, doesn’t hear you, how bleak do you feel? He hasn’t learnt to suppress, switch off, distract himself with work. He is just feeling it. And just like falling in love, it won’t last forever. He will grow into a toddler, a child, a tween (oh lordy), a teenager, an adult. His focus will shift ever-outwards, he will move ever-outwards, out of the nest of my arms. And as this happens he will keep looking back to me, to us, just a bit less often. And I want him to know that he matters, that people matter more than stuff and that if he needs us, we’ll be there.

I’m no saint. Don’t get to thinking that every time I’m murmuring the third verse of Silent Night on the fourth repeat that I’m smiling beatifically, stroking small’s tiny brow and praising the joy of forty minutes of rocking back and forth. No no no, there are times when I’m absolutely resentful, grinding my teeth, huffing, sighing and willing him to just-bloody-go-to-sleep-so-I-can-go-back-to-my-ever-cooling-cup-of-tea-and-vital-episode-of-Modern-Family. But I’ll keep doing it. Like with the beloved and I, it’s just a matter of practice and constant reminders. The small one won’t need to be rocked to sleep forever, but I hope that one day, when he might be a super-sensitive tween, or an angsty teen, that he’s as emotionally available to me as he is now.


Oh, how we laughed! August 3, 2010

I am a little bit stubborn. Well, mule-like could be more accurate. When I’m in the mood I will argue the toss for the sake of it, baselessly insist on being right on topics about which I know nothing and resist suggestion until I can work out a way to do it so that it looks like it was my idea in the first place. Obviously I am going to get a real kick out of arbitrary, blanket rules being proclaimed by experts, celebrities, politicians, or just about anyone.

Things that have been giving me a giggle this week:

Gisele Bundchen declaring that there should be a world-wide law making mothers breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I think breastfeeding is excellent, nourishing, nurturing, life-saving in areas of contaminated water supply, it bolsters the health of women and babies and can even be fun. From a thoroughly personal perspective, I often have trouble understanding why more people don’t do it purely on the grounds that it’s free and portable and no-one has to do the washing up afterwards. I can also attest to breastmilk being useful if you need to soothe a jellyfish sting, amongst other medicinal boons. Should we do more to support women who want to breastfeed? Yes, unequivocally. Should it be mandated? Not on your nelly. Hilariously, the poll attached to this story is currently showing the following results in response to the prompting to ‘Rate Gisele Bundchen’s Call’ – 29% say Excellent in an ideal world, 43% say Daft if the mother is unable to breastfeed and a mere 27% say Up to the mother. Seriously? Now I know the Brisbane Times and its readership aren’t necessarily representative of, say, the world. But over 5000 people have already responded to this poll and the majority are more concerned about women’s potential breastfeeding abilities than their freedom of choice.

Sadie at Jezebel critiquing Maia at Feministe on child-free spaces. Many, many people have responded at length to this article. Many people writing about how they shouldn’t have to be made uncomfortable by other people’s noisy spawn cluttering up bars and R rated movies. Some, generously, commenting on how it’s not their smallness and youngness, but their behaviour that is the reason for excluding them. Some defensively stating that they don’t and shouldn’t have to like children. Some just bitching about Maia and her writing. But mainly a whole lot of whining about being made to feel uncomfortable. Since when did we all become entitled to feel comfortable all the time? There are many sources of discomfort in this world and they’re not all under eighteen.

Dr Wootan via drmomma at peaceful parenting. I’m all for attachment parenting. I love reading about it, talking about it and practicing it on the small person… that is I like the bits I like and I don’t bother with the bits that I don’t. I don’t see it as a program that I’ve signed up for, or a contract that I’m obligated to fulfill in its entirety. I used it as a starting place, from where myself and my partner could develop our own parenting style. I don’t think it should be yet another source of angst and guilt, or another weapon for parents to hit themselves and other parents over the head with. Talking over mugs of tea this morning with my friend, mother of M and her smaller sister L, I described Dr Wootan’s proposal that no mother should leave her child’s side until they are three unless the child is asleep. She just looked at L, who is almost three and alternates between being incredibly sweet and grittily defiant. As we watch her she is trying to upside-down herself onto a rocking horse and ride it into the wall, whilst simultaneously eating her body weight in mandarines. ‘Oh no’ she said, ‘you’ve gotta have a break from that’. We had a good laugh and peeled a few more mandarines. And for us it is true. We love our children dearly but we also love being able to step away for a moment, for whatever reason, even if our children are awake at the time.