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jkpenney

Babywearing Educator, Parent, Advocate

Month

August 2016

Hard Days

Some times parenting is hard. So hard that you forget how to be the type of parent you generally strive for. But that’s okay. There’s always the next time to do it right. Luckily kids are super forgiving. 

We just left a water park. The girls had a blast. Getting them into clean, dry clothes resulted in me praying that their naked butts were still in the changing room as they kept running off while I was half dressed. I already felt like all I’d done all afternoon is yell. Especially with watching a friend’s kids for 10 mins when one of them ran off and I had to collect the others before being able to go after said child. I didn’t have the patience to manage their energy and the judgmental looks from someone with a small, not so mobile child. Obviously it’s been a relaxing day. 

On the way out one of the girls saw the strategically placed icecream cart and sat on the wet ground in hops that her alligator tears would magic ice cream into her hands. It didn’t. Finally get her to the exit when she realizes the wet ground dampened her clothes. This of course resulted in her stripping down to her birthday suit in the exit. Strangely, it took me a good 5 minutes to realize, “hey I could switch which kid I have in a carrier and make this easier on everyone”. Before that lightbulb moment I just stared at her like her adversions to wet clothing was absurd. Great parenting moment there. 

We are finally in the car and both girls are napping. I’ve cycled through a whirlwind of emotions in all of 20 minutes and have settled on resigned. The next situation will be better. And if not, there is always tomorrow. Parenting isn’t one moment, it’s a collection of every moment over a lifetime. It is okay to run out of patience. It’s normal to not parent perfectly every time. It’s healthy to lose your cool sometimes. Maybe I’ll do better next time. Maybe not. 

Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project

There is a Facebook page, Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP), that promotes nursing your children wherever you are as needed. Photographers from around the world donate their time to photographing caregivers feeding their baby via whichever means they use, be it breast, bottle, tube, or any other option. The large focus is on nursing since American society seems to find such an intuitive act   “disgusting” and “shouldn’t be done” in public spaces, covered or not. Public perception is so outrageous that my friend over at Where the Watermelons Grow was actually told that breastmilk, her child’s primary form of nutrition, is the equivalent of fecal matter. This clearly highlights a horrendous misconception throughout society. 

This is also why movements like PBAP are so important. For new nursing parents, the process of getting a newborn to latch and stay latched is exhausting. Throw in trying to stay covered or secluding yourself to a noisy bathroom stall because society says that’s best and it is surprising as many parents continue to nurse as they do. It is not at all shocking that many parents give up. It’s a hard skill to learn, especially if there are any complications. There is minimal support from hospital staff, medical professionals, and often family. On top of this, strangers think it’s their duty to look down upon you and educate you on your harlot ways when you nurse in public. It is an uphill battle to breastfeed a child. 

The perception that breasts are meant for a parnter’s pleasure and nothing more needs to change. That is not their biological purpose. They are not sex organs. Breasts are designed to feed children, period. American society cannot change without movements such as PBAP. Until public nursing becomes mainstream, there will continue to be a need for awareness so that no caregiver gives up on nursing just because society shunned them into it. 


To see more images from the #PBAP2016, check out the above link or visit Kimberlin Gray Photography

Market Explosion and Accessibility

Since I first looked into Babywearing just four years ago, the market has seen huge changes. There are new companies every month, releases of new carriers every day, and Babywearing beyond the first few months of life is becoming more mainstream. There are positives and negatives to this growth. The negatives are, in my opinion, not nearly as great as the positives. 

The largest downside to this growth is that the second hand market has slowed considerably. No longer can you expect your full investment into a carrier back. This can be jarring when from the start you were told “it’s like a savings account you can use” or other such nonsense. Baby carriers were the only baby item to consistently maintain its value even after use. Now with so many companies and releases, this is an impossible expectation.  As a babywearer who has been quite involved in the buy/sell/trade game, this can be a stressful change. Also, a repercussion of this is the second hand market directly affects the first hand. The small mom and pop companies producing carriers have to find balance between offering something new frequently to keep the buyer’s attention and not end up with too much merchandise on hand from slow sales.

The biggest upside to this expansion, and considerably more important, is that Babywearing is becoming more accessible each day. There are now several brands of carriers in big box stores, not just the staples of bjorn, ergo, infantino, and moby. Better yet three brands of toddler carriers are readily available in those stores from Beco/Boba, Tula (now owned by Ergo), and Lillebaby. You can’t get much more mainstream than walking into your local target and buying a toddler carrier or ring sling. As an educator, this is exactly what I’ve hoped for. Baby carriers are one of the best parenting tools around. It is fantastic to live in a time where I can watch the community grow because of the ease of obtaining carriers. Also it’s much simpler to say “oh, you can pick one up at [insert big box store here]” than it is to direct them to an obscure online store or, worse, Facebook swaps. 

It will be interesting to look back on this community in another four years and see where it is then. 

Local Babywearing Group spreading education at an Event
Babywearing International of Hampton Roads at the Big latch On

Whirlwind Emotions

You, my sweet girl, were driving me to a fury just moments ago. Now my heart aches with endless pools of love for you. 

That is thought that crosses my mind as I look upon the sleeping princess laying against me. An hour ago, I was exhausted and trying to convince E to sleep via willpower. She, in turn, opened up boxes and emptied their contents, tore down all the clothes hanging in the closets, and yanked at my hair in order to lift my skull all while yelling “Belle” at me so I’d put the Beauty and the Beast dress that she’s lived in for the past week back onto her for bed time. 

So an open letter to my strong willed princess:

You can be exhausting, and surely test every limit. Be it your physical prowess, my patience, or my mental and emotional strengths. Through it all you are amazing. You are strong and resilient. You are absolutely brilliant. Forever reaching goals and learning new things, you are empowered. You show me the limitless depths of love and joy. You are wonderful. 

Remember this E when I am at my weakest and don’t show you through action. Even when I yell or dismiss, I am always proud and forever thankful of the person you are now and will be. Always. 

E dressed in a Tiana from  princess and the frog gown while waiting for the school bus.
The princess frog goes to school
E playing with a doctor office maze. she is wearing a belle gown and red rainboots.
Tinkering with toys in the waiting room
E sleeping in her belle gown
the dozing princess

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