With all of my de-cluttering and simplification, there is one drawer I’ve not even been able to bring myself to de-clutter.
It’s the drawer where I keep my baby carriers.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was so excited to acquire baby-related gear. We were living in a small apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area, so there was no discussion of whether to have a nursery or a crib or many of the other standard baby items, but there was still a remarkably large number of items that, as a new mom, I just had to have. I’ve since parted with nearly all of those things, several of them before my daughter was even out of her infancy as I realized just how superfluous most of those items were to the care of a being who was soothed by closeness to her mother and by nothing else.
There were three things I kept.
One was our cloth diapers. Those came in handy when our second was born. We still use the one-size dipes for overnight insurance and the prefolds for cleaning up spills and “accidents.”
The second thing I kept was outgrown baby clothes. Those proved largely unnecessary given my husband’s unwillingness to let our baby son wear dresses, despite my appeal to his normally frugal nature.
The last things I kept hold of were my many and various baby carriers. I even manufactured some excuses for acquiring even more baby carriers before and after my son’s birth.
I didn’t learn to use a ring sling until my daughter was eight weeks old when I finally visited La Leche League. Once those helpful mothers (who would become some of my dearest and most supportive friends) showed me to use that sling, I was hooked. Finally, I had a way to get my baby to SLEEP (and to leave that awful baby “bucket” seat in the car). From there, my love of babywearing just grew and grew.
When we were still in California, I went on weekly hikes (3-5 miles) with a family hiking group, with my daughter strapped to my back in a woven wrap carrier. I wore her on my back while cooking meals or lugging laundry to and from the coin-op machines. My husband wore her to the farmers market and street festivals and around the neighborhood when she had croup and needed the cool air to soothe her. In Utah, I wore her in a mei tai or the wrap on the bus and light rail where it was impractical to take a stroller. I wore her until my pregnant self could no longer comfortably wear a three-and-a-half-year-old.
From that first sling until the time my son turned two, I acquired lots of baby carriers. Over the past six years I have had:
-three ring slings
-an adjustable pouch carrier
-two woven wraps (a Moritz and a blue-and-white Indio for those Didymos fans out there)
-a stretchy wrap
-two gauze wraps
-a water wrap (for the pool and the shower)
-two soft-structured carriers
-two mei tais
-a front-pack carrier (before I knew the ease and comfort of pretty much every other carrier ever created)
The one carrier I never had but always wanted was a podaegi, which is a Korean-style blanket carrier you don’t need to hook over your shoulders. It was the one carrier I’d never seen in person and I was afraid that if I bought one, I wouldn’t figure out how to wear it.
I’ve gotten rid of some of my carriers, but most of the ones on the list above are still in my baby carrier drawer or the trunk of my car. I really only use one of the soft-structured carriers and one of the mei tais anymore, and those I only use if my son falls asleep on the way somewhere or if we’re going on a long and/or snowy hike. He’s not as enthusiastic about toddler-wearing as my daughter was.
Logically, I know it’s time to pass along the rest of these carriers. But I’m just not ready to let go of that period of my life. The co-sleeper, the swing, the “stationary entertainer,” even the cloth diapers…those were easy to give away. They were utilitarian for a period of time and then they weren’t. I just found someone who needed them and I packed them up and felt good that they were going to a good home. And the maternity clothes? I practically celebrated when I got rid of those. No one makes clothes that fit a 5′ 2″ woman who births 9-pound babies.
But the carriers that remain in my drawer represent a closeness with my children, their little bodies snuggled close to me, a tinyness they’ll never have again. The carriers represent that brief and beautiful time between when my children and I occupied the same body and when they became their own little beings. Just the smell of the carriers in that drawer takes me back to my babies’ warm weight against my chest or snuggled up between my shoulder blades. I’d been telling myself I was holding onto the carriers in case we adopted a baby, but more and more it looks like our family is complete the way it is. So passing them along will also mean that we are, for sure, done anticipating the arrival of any more babies. And that realization is bittersweet. The transition from “woman” to “mother” was such a momentous one, it’s hard to imagine that I’m done with that “baby” period of my life, even though I feel ready and excited for this next phase.
I know it’s time to let the baby carriers go. But I think I’ll let myself hold onto them a little while longer.
What items do you let yourself hold onto even though you no longer need them?