The general public has developed the unfortunate habit of inserting itself into a person's parenting decisions. Perfect strangers will tell moms and dads that their child is clearly too big for that stroller, too old for that pacifier, and definitely shouldn't be breastfeeding at their age. And should you be seen picking up a child who is clearly capable of walking on their own, heaven help you. It sucks to have to defend your choices, which is why I refuse to apologize for carrying my toddler.
My daughter turns 3 next month and she's tall for her age, so people sometimes mistake her for older. I definitely get some serious side-eye for carting her around, especially now that I'm showing with my second pregnancy. When we pulled up to the hourly care facility the other day, she was visibly upset. "No there," she insisted. "I go bye-bye mommy." I had to be at an important training, so I sympathized, snuggled, and carried her in. I was quite taken aback when the caregiver said to my child, "Mommy is going to put you down now. You're a big girl."
I don't think I'm the only one who would be upset by a comment like that. If you're "still" carrying your toddler, you don't have to rationalize it to anybody — I'll do that for you:
Because It's None Of Your Business
I'm sorry, is me carrying my toddler hurting your back? Unless my parenting decisions affect you (and with the exception of vaccinations, they don't), then you don't get to have an opinion. Or, at the very least, you can keep it to yourself.
Because I'm Doing It Safely
According to Today's Parent, the safest way to lift a toddler is to bend at the knees with your body upright, bring your child close to you, engage your pelvic floor muscles, and lift with your legs.
If you're worried about my fetus, don't be. I don't have a history of preterm labor or a short cervix, so holding my kid on my hip while pregnant is perfectly fine.
Because She Walks Plenty
It's not like I give my kid a free ride all the time. There are lots of occasions where she happily runs, marches, dances, and hops like a bunny down the sidewalk or grocery store aisle. She's becoming more independent all the time, and she's often content to walk alongside me holding my hand.
Because I'm Getting It In While I Can
My little girl won't be little much longer. Someday soon, she won't crawl into my lap for snuggles, sit in the rocking chair while I read her a bedtime story, or ask for a piggyback ride. Don't mind me if I soak in the sweet smell of my daughter's hair and the warmth of her head nestled into my neck.
Because It Makes Her Feel Secure
Physical connection with me (her safe person) gives my highly sensitive child a sense of security. If she's sick or sad, a literal mommy pick-me-up is sometimes the only thing that can make it "all better." I'm not going to deny my child that comfort if I can reasonably provide it.
Because Her Little Legs Get Tired
If you've ever walked next to a toddler, then you know they have to take three to five steps for every one of yours. They understandably tire more easily than we do. It's like walking a Maltese: you know you're going to have to lug them home in your arms.
Because It's My Call
Frequently toting around my toddler might wreak havoc on my body, but that's the thing. It's my body. I'll do it as long as it works for the two of us. If being carried is something she wants and that I am happy to do, then it shouldn't matter to anyone else how I respond to, "Mama, up?"
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.