So, I’m taking a second to talk to my babywearing tribe and I am hoping what I say will be taken in the emotion I am feeling and no one will be offended because I truly mean no offense.
I am worried about my babywearing community. I’m sad at how the attitudes and behaviors have changed lately. I don’t feel like the movement here is on a very positive road and while I don’t know that I can do a lot to change it, I do want to say something and then hope maybe it changes a few people here and there or at the very least, it helps me to have gotten it off my chest.
People, it has gotten mean out there. I’ve never seen babywearers bully others, ridicule them and exclude others in the ways I’ve seen this year. I have had moments when I was just plain ashamed of us as a whole. I don’t know how I was blind to it for so long, but I was. I see it now though and I don’t like it.
What happened to our community theme of “spreading the babywearing love”? That was a nice theme and it tended to blend into sharing the love in everything. I was always very proud of the fact that babywearers were a mixed bag: nursing, formula feeding, co-sleeping, crib loving, cloth and disposable diaper loving mamas and papas who were focused on their families and supporting those around them. It was a pretty awesome tribe.
I felt it in Chicago and it made me stronger as a person. I lived it in Idaho and when my tribe came to me I knew I’d found my people. But, this year… it is different. It is divided. It is unwelcoming. It is judgmental. That is not the babywearing community I know and love.
When did it become okay to ostracize a woman because she is using a baby carrier she bought at Wal-mart? Where is the concrete evidence proving that front facing out a baby in a carrier will permanently damage a child’s body? Who made the lists that get passed around banning one brand of carrier but singing the praises of another brand? When was it decided that the more hardcore and therefore awesome babywearer is always using a wrap (or a mei tai or a ring sling, take your pick) and the others are simply not worthy?
What happened to embracing our differences, meeting people where they were and focusing on support and inclusion in a world that is full of negativity and exclusion?
As many of you know, I am LDS. It is a part of me and I reference it often just because I speak it, it is something I know about and can use it easily in a conversation to explain myself. I also speak Cop Wife,
Disgruntled Toddler and Crazy, but today I want to use Mo Mo.
For years now there has been debate about a point in our church called “The Word of Wisdom”. It is all about eating healthy, not being addicted to stuff, etc. Since I was a little kid I’ve heard debates over the use of caffeine and whether or not that is against The Word of Wisdom. There have been some pretty ridiculous arguments as extreme as, “if you eat chocolate you are an unworthy Mormon” or “if you don’t eat gluten you are breaking this law”. I mean… dumb. I am sure all of you can agree these are silly things to argue over. I’ve tended to be the person who read it, decided where I stood on it and happily sipped my Mountain Dew in the corner, not really caring what others thought. I interpreted it for myself and I’m satisfied with where I’m at spiritually and physically with it.
Well, just the other day, my church came out with a statement specifically on caffeine, and The Word of Wisdom and guess what it said? Basically, it isn’t a big deal. To each their own.
Yay for pop drinking Mormons everywhere! We win! And yet… pop isn’t great for your body. Caffeine isn’t great for your body. If you are addicted to it, that is probably not so much good. So, while it isn’t a black and white no no, it probably still isn’t the best to consume. Best practice would be to drink water instead. I agree. But some days I’m going to sip my Dew and be happy.
Let’s liken this to the debate surrounding facing a baby out in a carrier. People, there is no black and white law. There are no formal studies. True, it isn’t comfy for a long period of time. True, there are better ways to use a baby carrier. And true, best practice would be another position that is comfier longer. But, here’s the thing: It is not a life or death issue AND, it isn’t our business or place to come down on someone for not doing a good thing (holding/wearing their baby) in exactly the perfect way! Why are we making this such a line in the sand when it will not affect the rest of our lives if that random woman at the park faces her baby out? You know what *could* affect the rest of our lives? Going up to that woman and befriending her, telling her you are a babywearer too and she rocks! Maybe if the two of you click, hang out and maybe you’ll have a lifelong friend. Maybe you’ll rub off on her and maybe she’ll rub off on you, both for the better. I did that once and guess what? I do have a wonderful lifelong friend because of it.
Let’s go back to church for a minute. (Face it people, babywearing is kind of like a religion to some of us so this works.) New scenario. I’m in church minding my own business and someone walks in that my husband has arrested, or someone walks in wearing a swimsuit when the dress code is more along the lines of dresses and suits.
1. Tell them they aren’t welcome,
2. Ignore them or
3. Welcome them in with a smile or a wave or just a prayer in their direction.
Guess what? I don’t care what you pick. I’ve done option 2 and 3 before. I haven’t done option 1 before, but I’ve had it done to me and it suuuuuuucks. Worst feeling ever. I don’t want to make anyone feel that way. Besides, last I checked church is a place for everyone, sinners in particular. I’m not saying an imperfect babywearer is a sinner, I’m saying we’re all sinners in one way or another. Face it, none of us have used a baby carrier perfectly from day one. Lucky for us, someone was kind and helped us improve. Maybe we ought to return the favor. If we just aren’t there yet (and I get that, I do), maybe we need to just put on our blinders and ignore whatever offends us. Love more, judge less. We’ll be happier for it.
I have one last thing to add. I didn’t say it, but someone (again) from my church did. I have the link here and you can read it if you want. (Please note I’m not trying to convert anyone here. Worship or not however you want and I’ll think you rock because it is true.)
His name is Dieter F Uchtdorf and this is what he said:
When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
Please, my babywearing tribe, stop it. Go back to spreading the love and accepting mamas and papas where they are. We need to turn this around and be kinder, more helpful and more giving. We’ll be happier people. Our special babywearing community will be stronger and others can find us and feel acceptance and support that they need.
I apologize for the weepy sermon here. I’m putting away the soapbox and hoping again that no one will be offended but perhaps will feel the urge to try a new tack and focus on finding the positive instead of rejoice in the negative.
Thanks for reading. Try not to kick my butt too hard virtually.