The nitty, gritty story
Today I attempted to “wear” my baby in public for the first time.
(This smiling, happy, over-confident selfie photo was taken BEFORE the deed, when I was practicing baby-wearing around the house. *insert wicked villain laugh* – BWAHAHA).
My earliest memory of baby-wearing was when I was an impressionable young girl of about ten-years-old. I remember only one woman that wore her babies and that was none other than my now dear friend Lynn Sneed, the mother of, count ’em, nine children. I distinctly remember her at the the Fort Worth Zoo with a wee babe mysteriously tucked away and hidden in yards and yards of fabric wrapped around her frame. To me, as a young carefree girl, it looked simultaneously intriguing and intimidating. She looked like the Queen of Sheba, shrouded in layers of fabric. No wonder all her many children followed her like obedient ducklings in a row. OBEY YOUR MAMA OR YOU TOO WILL BE WRAPPED.
Maybe the intimidating Lynn Sneed is why I never attempted baby wearing with my first two children.
Maybe it’s also that I wanted to be a hip, cool mom that didn’t get pulled down to unkept caretaker in public, sans make-up, clad in old work out clothes. (Please take another look at cited photo.)
And yet, after I birthed a third child, baby-wearing was suddenly VERY, VERY appealing.
So, back to my first attempt at public baby-wearring today. I DIDN’T GOOGLE OR YOUTUBE ANY INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS. Just cold-turkey left the house: just me, the wee babe and the maroon Ergo baby carrier.
(Fear? I LAUGH AT FEAR.)
I pull into the store parking lot in my SWEET grey Honda Odessey minivan. (Sorry for always using the adjective “SWEET” to describe my minivan, but it always makes me laugh typing it in conjunction with the ultimate practical mom-mobile.)
(Also, I’m up all night with a newborn so my vocabulary is down to a limited set of one-syllable adjectives.)
It is still sweltering hot here in Texas. I auto opened the sliding minivan door, like a baby-wearing boss. There was the baby. There was the baby carrier. And there was me, standing there, clueless.
“Well, the only way to learn is to begin,” I thought, STUPIDLY.
I mean, how hard could it be? A few buckle snaps and I should be good to go, right? Let’s just say that after about an epic long struggle under the beating sun, baby Hannah and I both were both sweating like Germans in a summer sauna (tiny beads of sweat on her nose, and mammoth panic sweat spots on me). After a solid ten minutes, the only thing that was snapped was the belt around my waist.
I finally scooped up the baby and the rest of the open plastic buckles and clips just hung off me, like dead snakes. I held the baby against my chest where she should have been in the carrier. Instead of using the baby carrier, I WAS THE BABY CARRIER.
(When I initially left the house for this errand, I had visions of me, the cool organic crunchy mom, gliding hands-free into the clothing department store. Instead, I crossed the parking lot like a frazzled weirdo clutching her baby with buckles and straps flapping down around me like a odd Hawaiian luau grass skirt.)
I dove into the store (true story) and laid baby Hannah and the baby carrier that I WAS CARRYING on the glass countertop displaying luxury gold watches below. (Bet those watches had never seen a baby carrier and sweaty baby on top of them before).
And you know what I did? I could have left with my tail between my legs. But, by golly, if you make it this far you follow through, come hell or high water. I took a breath. Regrouped, scooped up the baby again against my chest and made my way to a complete stranger: Kind Brunette Shopper.
“Hello, ma’am? I am so sorry to bother you but I am *awkward laugh” having a little difficulty snapping the buckles on this. Would you mind helping me?”
(Bet she didn’t anticipate when she left her house for a fun day of shopping that an unkept, no-make-up sleepless zombie mom would ask her to buckle a baby to her torso, mid-shirt aisle).
Like any southern kind lady, Kind Brunette Shopper giggled sweet nothings about how she remembered little ones while I quickly swiped my sweaty hair stuck to neck to the side, so she could see to buckle.
I shopped for 2.5 seconds and bolted for the door.
But when I returned to my SWEET minivan, I started panic sweating again. I mean. There I was in the hit parking lot again, but now I faced an even bigger problem. HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO GET THE BABY OR ME OUT OF THIS THING?!?! Kind Brunette had snapped me in like Fort Knox. Napoleon had an easier chance escaping Elba than a sweaty panicking mom escaping THE BABY CARRIER. After several failed attempts, the baby started crying, so I unbuckled the only buckle I could reach: the hip buckle. And then the baby and I slowly backed AWAY and OUT of the snake pit of mysterious buckles to glorious freedom.
Suffice to say, when I returned home, I watched this video clip 50-million times in a row on how to put on and take off the baby carrier: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SeOwBYCa3o. (I mean, the model mom alone is memorizing. She looks like a smiling, perfect make-up angel Baby Carrying ballerina snapping all the buckles with the ease of modeling diamonds).
Moral of the story: I WILL continue to learn and practice the elusive art of baby wearing, but only after some home practice.
PS: All my love to Kind Brunette Shopper wherever you are. You inspired me with your kindness to a stranger in need. Maybe when I am a carefree shopper someday, I can assist a sweaty baby-carrying newbie, too. xo
Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.