I was at the grocery store with my kids the other day, and, well, you would've thought I'd grown horns by the looks people gave me. I glanced at my reflection in the freezer case. Nope, no horns... just a toddler in a baby carrier on my back. Of all the things to disapprove of, it just seems so weird. I mean, why on earth do people expect me to apologize for babywearing my toddler? It's none of their business, it makes my life easier, and, truly, this judgment simply makes no sense at all.
Someone even had the audacity to talk to my toddler about it. "Mommy should let you walk," they said. Really? How rude, to passive-aggressively talk to my child in front of me. Yes, my 15-month-old son can walk, but not through an entire grocery store without getting tired. And he's not old enough to understand basic instructions, especially in a busy, public place. So "letting him walk" pretty much just guarantees that I will have to chase him around the store. I am pretty sure that's a level of hell that Dante forgot when he wrote Inferno.
Babywearing my toddler is awesome. It leaves my arms free to tend to my other kids, grab groceries, and check out with ease. Even better, with him in the baby carrier on my back, I don’t have to spend the entire time telling him to sit down, trying to tighten the seat belt enough so he can’t turn around or stand up in the cart, or having to carry him around the store in my tired arms. It makes my life as a mom so much easier.
I have five kids, but only two hands, two eyes, and the ability to run so fast. So, I’ll do whatever I need to do to keep my kids safe, and make it through the store, the park, the zoo, the museum, or wherever we happen to be, relatively unscathed. For our family, that means babywearing my toddler. I don't care if you judge me, shame me, or give me side-eye, because I am definitely not apologizing.
Because My Toddler Is Huge
My son is a big kid, especially for his age. As a result, people often have pretty unfair expectations when it comes to his behavior. It also means that they judge the hell out of me for wearing him in a baby carrier, assuming that he should walk himself or that it makes me lazy.
Guys, wearing him in a carrier doesn't make me lazy, it makes me smart. I don't have to worry about picking him up when he inevitably gets tired, and don't have to chase him or try to make him hold my hand.
Because It Helps Me Keep Them Safe
My toddler is at a frustrating age — he’s too young to listen to and understand basic instructions, but old enough to run into the street faster than I can. Babywearing helps me keep him safe in public places, when I might otherwise have trouble keeping track of him.
Because I Have More Than One Child
Because I have more than one child, taking my kids out in public can be a challenge on so many levels. Babywearing makes trips out of the house less stressful for me... and more enjoyable for everyone else.
Because We Both Love It
Babywearing is so snuggly, I’m pretty sure it has magical child-soothing powers. My kid almost always either immediately falls asleep in the carrier, or giggles while riding so close to his mom. I love it too, so for now I am getting all of the toddler snuggles I can get.
Because It's Easy
I am so over the idea that motherhood has to always involve some level of self-sacrifice. If there something I can do to make my life easier, I’m totally going to do it. It would be foolish not to, even if people judge me for it. And for me, babywearing is so much easier than chasing around a toddler or holding him in my arms.
Because I'm In Pain
People who judge me when they see me wearing my toddler don't know my whole story. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and am pretty much always in pain. It’s so much easier for me to wear him in a carrier than it would be for me to lug around a stroller, lifting in and out of the car and pushing him around. It’s certainly easier to babywear him in a carrier than it is to pick him up and hold him in my aching arms.
Because I’m So Tired
My toddler weighs more than 30 pounds. So, while I am able to pick him up and carry him if I need to, my arms get tired quickly. I am also not willing to play “pick me up, put me down" all day long with my kids.
Because I Shouldn't Have To Apologize
We’ve got to stop asking moms to apologize for their parenting choices. I feel like we've reached a point in our culture where moms are shamed no matter what they do.
If you want to use a harness with your toddler, that's a great choice. I'm happy you found a way to keep them safe and close to you in public. If you want to use a stroller, that’s fine too. Strollers are awesome. And if you want to babywear your toddler, that's cool with me. It’s your choice, and you shouldn’t have to apologize.