Mothering infants and young children is not the most glamorous job in the world, (far from it), in fact, it can often be one of the most thankless, emotionally trying, difficult and messy jobs around.
Ask any mom of little ones how many hours of sleep she has had in the last week or when her last mani-pedi was. Though nurturing life and rearing young ones is a bountiful blessing and intrinsically rewarding in so many ways, it is in this early season of motherhood, which we as women tend to neglect ourselves/self-care. Additionally, such areas as maintaining a positive body and self-image or self-esteem may be negatively impacted.
This series, entitled, “Babywearing Made Beautiful”, seeks to address some of those issues, as well as to help shed some light on the many beautiful aspects of babywearing, mothering, (note: Poe knows father's babywear too, though we might change the moniker to "handsome" for dad's!), and how the two have mingled. We will be interviewing women, (if you're a babywearing dad interested in this project, we would love to interview you, please email us!), of various ages from all over the world. Our first installment follows below:
1. Tell us a little about yourself: (name, where you live, family size, kids, occupation—SAHM is totally an occupation BTW, hobbies, unknown fact or funny story)
"Hi! My name is Kit and right now we live in Alexandria, VA (outside of D.C.) but will be moving soon to Richmond, VA, for my husband’s work. We have two kids, D who is 4 and P who is 2. I have two “main” jobs, I am the Co-Founder of The Carrying On Project, and I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for MommyCon. Before kids, I was in the United States Marine Corps, and then got out and married an Army Officer."
2. Tell us a little about your mothering journey, have the infant and toddler years been easy or difficult for you, completely blissful or somewhere in the middle? Tell us about a challenge you overcame.
"Our biggest challenges as parents have been severe food allergies for both kids, and deployments. Both my kids were born with Gluten and Dairy allergies, and the younger one was born with a Soy allergy as well. They have both outgrown the gluten but the others remain. My husband deployed 10 days after my first was born for 7 months, and then for another 7 months when my oldest was 2.5 and my youngest was 5 months old. Both deployments came with their own sets of challenges because with my first we were living on the opposite of the country and I was still getting used to being a parent, and the second we were much closer to family but then there was TWO of them! We made it, and during the second he was delayed on return but we had already made plans for a working vacation (I was presenting at the UK Babywearing Conference) so I had to go on my first international trip as an adult with two kids under three! He met us there a few days later, but the first 5 days were hard! Babywearing saved us, for sure."
3. Since giving birth, have you struggled with maintaining a positive body and self-image or self-esteem? What has helped? What has hurt?
"Definitely. My body image is not so great to begin with, but having two babies two years apart was hard on it too. Being around other moms, watching The Fourth Trimester Bodies Project has been amazing, and knowing that I have to set an example for my “mighty girls” about all the great things their body can do has been really helpful. Changing sizes so much over the last four years has definitely hurt."
4. How were you originally introduced to babywearing? Were you mentored/assisted by an experienced babywearer, educator or consultant? What were your initial thoughts on the practice then compared to now?
"I was first introduced to babywearing when my best friend was wearing in someone’s wedding pictures, although we both know now that the carrier was a terrible fit for her! I realized it had a name during my Bradley class and not too long after that met a local mom who used a Mei Tai. I wanted to try it, but the stretchy wraps seemed SO long, so I sought out the local babywearing group, and after D was 5 weeks old I carried my bucket seat into someone’s house and was like HELP! Colorado Springs Babywearers helped us out a lot, but with babywearing and helping me navigate first time parenting issues. I only had one carrier for a long time and didn’t understand why people needed so many, but then I got in to the collector aspect as well."
5. What are your thoughts on the babywearing community, both online and locally? Have your experiences been pleasant? Does your area have a local babywearing group?
"I LOVELOVELOVE my local community and groups, and honestly all the ones I’ve lived in. We are very active online in our group and I keep most of my online interaction limited to my local groups and of course, The Carrying On Project. I try really hard to foster positive and helpful communities. I also love TheBabyWearer.com and try to send people there when I can."
6. Would you consider yourself into “attachment parenting”? Which aspects of AP to you find fit well with your family and lifestyle? Which do not?
"We fell into AP by accident J We breastfed because it was free (and came easily for me), we started cosleeping after my husband deployed so I didn’t have to get out of bed to nurse, we babywear, I work really hard to integrate all of the eight principles in my life but I also know from being the Conference Liaison for API (Attachment Parenting International) that AP isn’t a checklist, it’s a lifestyle, and that comforts me on the days I don’t necessarily do ALLTHETHINGS, and is something I am sure to teach when I present for API. We are a very loud, very physical family, which doesn’t always mesh your stereotypical AP visions. BUT they are usually happy yells and noises, and lots of running and hugging and tickling and snuggling. I think one of my favorite things about cosleeping is that even if we have a rough day, we still all snuggle up together and end our day that way."
7. Do you babywear often? During which activities do you most often babywear during? How has babywearing affected you as a mother and caretaker of small children?
"We babywear at least daily, if not multiple times a day. My kids really like to go on walks and we have recently gotten a buckle toddler carrier we LOVE and so my youngest will grab “mama buckles” and beg to “wak”. We also babywear when traveling on the metro or by plane, because it makes it easy to keep everyone close and safe. Babywearing I feel like has made me a better parent because I am way more in tune with my kids and it is an invaluable tool for keeping us all calm and feeling like our needs are met. This also creates consistency for my kids because my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law, my nieces, and my mom will also wear my kids when they have them for the day and it helps everyone out. We are also a big “wear to nap” family when we are on the go."
8. Though there is not much, more beautiful to a mother than the sight of her newborn baby, which aspects of mothering do you find most beautiful? Rocking a baby sleep, reading books, kissing away boo boos? (It’s ok to choose more than one!)
"Nursing and snuggling, definitely."
9. When you wear your baby, (in your carrier of choice), how does it make you feel? How does it make your child feel? Have others in your family joined in the babywearing fun?
"We love it- it makes me feel strong, confident, and in control (I’m a total type A so this helps a lot!), and my kids feel safe, secure, and snuggled. My brothers are big supporters of babywearing, and my husband’s sister and her family are as well. Even my mom will wear them!"
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
"Babywearing means carrying on, for us. It helps keep on keeping on whatever life throws at us. When a parent is traveling, when we’re moving AGAIN, when we’re visiting family at the hospital, any of the above. For me it is less about feeling beautiful and more about feeling powerful and strong, which to me then makes me feel beautiful, I guess."
*Thank you so much Kit, for sharing your thoughts and story with Poe, on parenting and babywearing. Please visit their website to find out more about Kit's charity work with The Carrying On Project, whose goal it is to "...get carriers to the families of our military so that they may better obtain secure attachments with their children...". Semper Fi.