I wear my daughter because I shouldn’t be trusted with strollers. Ankles, toes, small dogs, and toddling children are at dire risk when I am set loose upon the world pushing anything with four wheels. It’s a miracle if I make it through a grocery shopping trip without toppling artfully stacked somethings with my cart, and putting my daughter’s face level with falling cans and bashed table tops seems somehow less than ideal. Every time we’ve attempted stroller use, I’ve found myself standing helplessly at the bottom of a flight of stairs, bruise-toed with an unhappy ankle-bashed husband, both of us too far gone emotionally to find a rational (um, elevator) solution to our immediate problem. I have abandoned entire mall trips because I was too irritated by the horrible chore of finding an elevator (listen, we all have our issues…). I wear my daughter because life is best tackled with minimal baggage.
I wear my daughter because, hello, who has time for the gym? I wear her because the number of weighted squats, lunges, speed walks, and calf raise bounces babywearing coaxes out of my day is staggering. I wear her because my legs look better than they ever did before her birth, and because carrying her 6 then 10 then 16 then 20 extra pounds was the fast track back into my favorite jeans, and carrying her is the key to staying in them.
I wear my daughter because of the way she holds her right arm stick-straight ahead of us. Perched in her place on my hip, she stretches one arm long and steers us with invisible reins into our day, and I (mostly) resist the urge to gallop. I wear her because I prefer our hearts squarely leveled and the space between us perfectly sized for the whispering of secrets and the exchanging of smiles. I wear her because something of the days when we shared one body returns to us, and we are a unit, watching and interacting from the same vantage point. With her head close to mine, I can see what she’s seeing – I can track her interest as it locks onto new objects and identify them for her, watch her roll their sounds around behind those eager eyes, move closer so her sticky wondering hands can touch and learn and name. I can bask in the glow of the smiles she receives, she can sit in on my conversations, we can watch ducks and count them and bounce our way home. I wear her because we are together, and isn’t that beautiful, and isn’t that everything?
I wear her because her sleepiest self is soothed only by the sound of my voice and my heart through the walls of my chest, ancient womb echoes that are the earliest thing she knows. I wear her to remind her where she belongs, how wanted she has always been, how wanted she will remain.
I wear her because my independent, wild, and magical girl is not the sort to cling to my lap in playgroups or resist being passed around rooms. She has never met a stranger, my extroverted wonderful child, and I wear her because the moments of “just us-ness” are fleeting and coveted and selfishly hoarded. I wear her so I can send her out again, knowing she knows she will soon be back in my arms where I can whisper her secrets and nuzzle that noggin.
I wear my daughter because life is short. These precious days when she is small and clutch-able, all tiny grabbing fingers and sweet baby kisses and that incredible incomparable head-smell – these days are mere minutes, here and gone and never to return. I wear her because life is long, and long will be the years when she rejects my affectionate advances, when she is grown-gone and full of adulthood and no longer mine to cuddle at whim. For the vast majority of her life and mine, burying my nose in her sweet little headtop will be wildly inappropriate and, well, awkward for all parties involved. And so I wear my baby daughter. I snuggle her close and we pace and we rock and I close my eyes to the passing of days and imagine that we will stay here always, will always be exactly this near, exactly this much each other’s.
Long will be the years I cannot carry her, so I carry her now. How precious these days.
(Update: I wrote this post coming up on two years ago, and I’m happy to report we are still wearing every day. The pic above is from a few weeks back in our LILLEbaby CarryOn, taken by the incomparable Shannon Hannon Photography.)