I hear far too often from experts in the fields I study as a babywearing educator that the mother is the natural biological environment for the child. Do you know how isolating this is? It places the entire burden of parenting on one person’s shoulders.
Well. We’re not in the 1800s anymore. I want us to start looking at the whole family when discussing parenting, all kinds of families and not leave it to one version that is so dated. Partners, husbands, wives, family members, friends — they are all important.
Take Irina Christofferson, her foray into parenthood was long, difficult and filled with the murky journey through fertility treatments. Without her husband’s support, she would not have even made it to motherhood.
“This is my husband wearing our newborn twins. It took so much sweat, blood and tears to have them (they are IVF), that he wanted to be as close to them as possible, and babywearing made it possible!”
Parenting can be isolating and overwhelming – it is embedded in our culture. For example, when we have children, we become this new class of person – the parent. We are no longer welcome in all places anymore because we have a baby. There are playgroups, family restaurants, family festivals, and more. Mothers in particular are disconnected from their jobs, and the life they had before their baby was born. And then there is the truth that our friends are busy still trucking along with their lives, going to work every day and may not want to bother you. Though unintentional, many new mothers feel abandoned.
I have this strange philosophy in life. I call it the “We all suck theory.”
We all suck at something. We all have moments of giant enormous suckitude where we just cannot figure things out, where we just cannot cope, and where sometimes, we just want to bawl our eyes out.
Like what happened with Laurel Berubé recently. A friend of hers called her up tears. This was her moment of true “I am sucking right now. HELP!”
What did Laurel do?
“I packed up my two and headed to her house. Wrapped her littlest and got him to sleep and transferred him. She got a break and could eat, our older two played together. We got some adult conversation.”
It isn’t just the mother who is the natural biological environment for the baby. No longer does a mother simply have to set her mind on what she wants, and just do it. There is space now, for everyone.
For Kristen Beaudry, her help and sanity has come from family. “This is my mom wearing my son in the Tula when only Nana snuggles would do. My 2 sisters have also worn my infant daughter in the Tula when I needed a break.”
What do parents need? To take the time to learn new routines and find a new flow. To feel useful and competent. To be able to connect with friends and family. To participate in their communities. To acknowledge their emotions and have them validated in turn. To be properly supported and loved.
This year at the Second Babywearing in Canada Conference, Kathy Venter came in to talk to us about supporting maternal confidence. She very clearly mentioned the importance of the father –dads should be carrying and using kangaroo mother care as often as possible and as soon as the child is born. This biologically primes their brains to parenthood. Kathy also spoke of the importance of the family, and the community with respects to breastfeeding success.
One of the main benefits of babywearing is to allow parents to continue to participate in their various communities. It reduces isolation. And the best thing about a baby carrier? Anyone can put one on.
As far as I am concerned, the natural biological environment for any baby are humans. It takes the village to raise a child.