Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dirty Little Secrets

Pssst.  Hey … you with the baby … over here.  Yeah, you with the toddler, come on over too.  Pay no attention to the gray hair or the Cheerios stuck to my rear-end.  Don’t worry.  I’m not going to tell you how to be a better parent through babywearing, or through anything else.  As if you’d believe me.  We just met.  You have no idea how competent I can make you feel in comparison.  Today, though, I thought I’d share a few Dirty Little Babywearing Secrets.  Why?  Well, I’ve now been snowed in with my posse for over a week, so it’s distinctly possible that I’m just looking for an excuse to hide from them.  But it might also have to do with the fact there are some, well, less-publicized benefits of babywearing that I just think more of us should be aware of. Because not all of us got started down this road for philosophical reasons, and most of us have discovered so much more.

Dirty Little Secret # 1:  Babywearing eliminates the need for Spanx.
Okay, not really. But you can cover a multitude of sins with a big ol’ piece of fabric and a baby attached to your body.  Muffin top?  What muffin top?  Droopy boobs?  Where?  All I see here is a baby in a ring sling.  And did I mention how cute that baby is? 

Dirty Little Secret #2:  Babywearing allows you to fake it ‘til you can make it.
You know how learning to do something, even, frankly, something as umm … obscure … as a back carry in a ring sling, makes you feel more confident?  I found that being in public and wearing a baby made me feel like, at the very least, I could “play the part” of a mom who had it all together, until I did get it all together.  Sometimes the pretense fuels the reality.  And when I couldn’t get it all together, at least I didn’t lose anyone while I was out in public. 

Dirty Little Secret #3:  Babywearing is like a Homemade Tracking System
I am, unfortunately, someone who has had a child jump out of a stroller while crossing the street (seriously, you cannot make this stuff up-- from a fully secured five-point harness, no less.  Dude’s got some serious talent).  Let me just point out the obvious:  A worn child is a locatable child.  Some might even say an un-lose-able child.  Now, my jumper was not a good candidate for being worn (at the time of his escape or really at most times in his life), but while you’re racing around looking for the bolter, at least you know exactly where one or two of the Other Ones are.   

Dirty Little Secret #4:  Babywearing allows for creative storage

Did you know you can tuck a diaper, a onesie, and a small water to one side of a 4-month old in a tummy-to-tummy carry in a in a stretchy pouch?  And even better, that you can fit your large wallet, keys, a binky, 2 size 3 diapers, a wipes case, your camera, a lipgloss, AND a pound of Whole-Bean Starbucks in the handy dandy pocket of a Kozy MT?  These are not widely-publicized pluses.  Heck, with careful planning you could probably pack for the weekend in the tie-end of a wrap. 

Dirty Little Secret #5:  Babywearing allows you to embrace your inner evangelist and your inner Macgyver.
Everyone likes to be the expert every once in a while.  And babywearing is not exactly a widespread skill. You will be amazed at how often people will come up to you and ask you questions, and if you are open to responding, you get to spread the excitement.  Sometimes, you also get to be creative. I had a great time showing a guy at work how to use a pouch using some adding-machine tape and a stuffed mascot.  We must, of course, ignore the fact that the CEO’s executive assistant walked by at the time. 

Dirty Little Secret #6:  Babywearing reduces your need for Kleenex
Isn’t that green of you?  Whether you’ve been a parent for 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years, you’ve probably noticed that babies produce a lot of snot and a lot of spit-up.  Sorry.  I know, but I’ve been covered in one thing or another for almost a decade and have reached grudging acceptance of my reality.  Whether you’re carrying you child on your front or your back, she can take care of that snotty nose or pitter-dribble by herself, conveniently positioned to wipe her face right on your shirt.  Isn’t that great?  So self-sufficient and resourceful.  Unfortunately, Dirty Big Secret #1 is that babywearing can, at times, increase your laundry load.  But heck, isn’t your entire life really all about laundry at this point?  What’s one more shirt?  And when they miss your shirt and get you, well, you’ll need to shower.  But every once in while, don’t you really need a concrete reason to stop what you’re doing and hop into a nice hot shower?  Alone.  Where the sound of the water and the exhaust fan drowns out the sounds of all the people who need things from you … Oh.  Sorry.  Where was I?

Dirty Little Secret #7:  Babywearing presents endless opportunites to freak out your Mother-in-Law and other relatives.
Don’t lie.  Some little part of you enjoys freaking out your mother-in-law.  I love my MIL.  I am one lucky woman.  But … I am not going to deny that one of the reasons I embraced the “Santa Toss” method of back-carry-positioning is because I knew it would completely freak her out.  And my mom, who was a die-hard Snugli wearer, still waffles between being impressed and confused by my dazzling skills.

Dirty Little Secret #8:  Babywearing allows you to believe, at least until someone throws up on you, that you can be La Mom Nikita.
I still remember my very first La Mom Nikita babywearing moment … I was getting dinner ready for my older two (2 & 4 at the time), and my 3rd was maybe 4 or 5 months old.  She was freaking out, I was freaking out, everyone was freaking out, because what fun is a good freakout if it’s not widespread?  I plopped her in a Mei Tai, managed to get her to latch on, and got dinner on the table and dinner into her simultaneously.  I threw in a load of laundry, loaded the dishwasher, and seriously felt like I could kick some bad-guy booty, if anyone was stupid enough to get near me and my bad self.  

Dirty Little Secret # 9:  Babywearing allows you to totally ignore your children.
Some might not consider this a plus, but let me tell you, in my world, this has been one of the biggest reasons I have been so avid for so long.   Got a to-do list a mile long and a newly mobile child?  Throw him on your back and you are good to go.  Laundry, groceries, bathing other children (watch your balance, now)?  Piece of cake.  All the daily mundane tasks that are impossible to do with someone clinging to your ankles or sticking his fingers in an electrical socket are magically possible when you’re wearing a baby-backpack, and you appear to the outside world like someone completely concerned about their welfare.

Dirty Little Secret #10:  Babywearing is Dead Sexy
That is a total lie.  I just wanted to make sure you were still reading.  One would be hard-pressed to say that really anything about baby-care is sexy in any way.  But … confidence is sexy.  And I can’t think of anything I’ve done as a mother that has given me so many minor and major boosts of confidence as babywearing has. 

Surviving parenthood has so much to do with confidence, learning to accept your personal limitations, and find ways to maximize your opportunities to be successful.  With four children, ranging in age from 9 to 2, I have had a lot of opportunities to come face-to-face with my limitations.  Most would agree I have more gray hairs than functioning brain cells at this point. Through Beltway Babywearers, both online and “in real life,” I have had the chance to meet a wonderful group of parents, some of whom I have very little in common with, many of whom have significantly different approaches to parenting than I do.  I have learned to appreciate that there really is no one “right” way.  It takes all kinds of mothers to mother all kinds of children, and all kinds of fathers too.  The trick is figuring out what kind of parent you are, and what kind of parent your kids need you to be at that moment.  

And, of course, not getting too cocky with your competent self, because what worked yesterday is unlikely to work on Day 7 of, say, a blizzard.  

Posted by Nancy


  1. This was a great post; I really enjoyed reading!

    And ... have fun in the snow!!

  2. #7 I totally agree with! I used to freak out the ILs EVERY time. Great post! =)

  3. I just cacked myself laughing. You are so right. Only two points I didn't agree with: it doesn't freak out my MIL (she taught me to carry two at once with mei tais). And it is dead sexy - if you're Cam from Twilight (saw pics of him with bubs in a pouch recently and he looked HOT!).

    Oh, and I convinced a new mom to go for a Kipawa Vatanai wrap yesterday with her 8 day old baby, pointing out that wraps are particularly good at hiding baby spit-up on your t-shirt. Not that she needed any advice in this area. But we all know that babies do explode regularly, and it's good to be prepared to hide the evidence...

  4. You make me want to live back in the Beltway again. And I would have to agree that babywearing is sexy, at least when our guys do it. Is there anything more attractive??? ;)

  5. Hmmm, always happy to learn more secrets. #9 is esp true, not to mention it's mutual. A worn baby isn't looking for or thinking about me; rather she can get absorbed in her own thoughts, observe me taking on the "to-do list a mile long," doze, etc.

    (and I would say it is *because* I love and am concerned about the baby that I arrange us in such a way that I need not worry about where she is and vice-versa.)

  6. love it - what a great post. SO true!!!

  7. I'm pregnant right now, and fully plan on wearing my baby....thanks for the encouragement! :)

  8. I live in Sterling VA. Where in Centreville do you meet? I wear my twins but really need help with choosing baby carriers/slings and learning how to properly use them.


  9. awesome post! thanks for the good read :-)

  10. And you can shovel snow while wearing the baby.

  11. I'm new to your site and hoping to attend the Sat April 17th meeting... what time and where is it in Oakton? the calendar option isn't working for me.

  12. Another mama here who has been grateful for the way a sling covered my spit-up covered shirt when I was at a public event and couldn't go change for an hour. :D

    I also love the tail of my ring sling--it doubles as an emergency wiper for fingers/faces/snot/barf/etc. No need to carry extra burp cloths around. :)

  13. Just started readin this blog, and this is a great post. So true. And it's nice to see another la femme nikita fan babywearing.