Whilst going through the images taken during the photoshoot Sheffield Babywearers organised as part of their celebrations for International Babywearing Week, I find myself contemplating this year's theme: Carrying on Traditions.
It strikes me, as I sit here perusing the gallery of images, trying to decide which images I like the best (there isn’t just one, there are many) that babywearing is hugely diverse - as diverse as the babies we carry. On the day babies, toddlers and preschoolers were carried in ringslings, mei tais, pods, buckles, and wraps; on their mums' fronts, hips and backs. In fact, a few preschoolers even did some carrying of their own - an oversized Tigger in a shorty wrap for an impromptu back carry, and a more appropriately sized scarf to carry a doll.
So I then find myself pondering the question: how can such diversity link all babywearers? And it struck me, babywearing traditions are not just about returning to traditional ways of carrying.
To be linked to our babywearing predecessors we do not have to use their carriers - I do not have to use an African Kanga wrap, a Vietnamese Hmong, a Japanese Onbuhimo, a Korean Podeagi, a Welsh blanket, or a wicker basket lashed to my back with strips of leather. Whether we use a mei tai or a custom made buckle carrier; a handwoven or machine woven wrap; a ring sling, pouch or mass-produced carrier, we are all connected back to those traditions because it is the act of carrying our offspring that unites us and binds us with those traditions. We do not have to do a traditional carry to be carrying on traditions. And so I concluded that I, my fellow Sheffield Babywearers, and every other parent (relative, friend, sibling) who carries their child, are carrying on the traditions of providing nurture, comfort, and security; and of maintaining the tradition of being able to fulfill the needs of the whole family because babywearing allows us to give one child cuddles whilst running at full kilter around the park chasing the rampaging older sibling (or family pet, or both); it allows us to cook and wash-up and other mundane household chores that don’t magically do themselves.
Which image do I treasure the most from the photoshoot ... well, there are several, but I think these two summarise what babywearing and Sheffield Babywearers are about for me:
And helping a new mother discover the joy of “carrying on traditions”:
The latter was something I (and others) had the pleasure of repeating during Saturday's Showroom sling meet. Thank you to all the parents who have given me the chance to share my love of babywearing; I hope you all have found it is magical and wonderful, as I continue to on a daily basis.