Climb Every Mountain
I climbed Ben Nevis when I was one. Well, sort of anyway. My parents, avid hill walkers that they were, lugged me up there in what they called "the papoose", an orange brown canvas framed baby carrier that must have weighed almost as much as me and reeked of 1970's style. I have no recollection of this particular adventure, but I imagine that I would have found the bits for which I was awake quite stimulating at the time. I didn't know what "baby wearing" was until 30 [*cough*] something years later when I started going on adventures with my own baby on my back.
After my son was born, it took me a few months to learn to wrap, and feel confident enough to go out without the buggy. Until then I ventured out with my new, cleverly engineered, "off-road transport system" with "three wheels for easier manoeuvrability on uneven terrain & suspension for a smoother ride". I quickly learned that despite a list of technical features worthy of Vorsprung durch Technik, it was still impossible to squeeze through narrow doorways, manoeuvre around small shops or cafés, and get up or down stairs without the aid of chivalrous strangers... and that wasn't the worst of it. I may not be quite the mountaineer that my parents were, but my husband and I have always been fond of a wander in the countryside with the occasional spot of geocaching.
It rapidly dawned on me that despite the transport system's inspirational promotional video, if I couldn't get the buggy up a few steps, I was unlikely to get it over stiles, through streams or up the narrow footpath that winds around Glastonbury Tor (a favourite haunt of ours). In short, a huge part of our pre-child life was now off limits. What's more, my need to get out of the house, to breathe in some fresh air, and try to remember something of who I was before giving birth was greater than ever. I could live without cider and evenings out (just!), but my sanity was forfeit if I couldn't escape into 'the wild'.
Not too long ago, a friend expressed her view that babywearing constrained little ones, and that they surely needed the freedom to move around and grow. Well, of course they do! Little ones need to roll, crawl, stretch their legs, walk and run. They also need to explore their world. Some exploring happens at home, or in the park or garden, and some in buggies. But what about those huge parts of the world where buggies fear to tread? I was no particular fan of the high street, supermarket or adequately pavemented park prior to motherhood, so I didn't relish the idea of completely amending my 'imagined' geographies and restricting my son's formative experiences to these buggy-friendly zones. Also, having spent much of my life in rural or semi-rural areas like west Wales and Somerset, I was used to having no pavements, and didn't relish the thought of dodging tractors on small lanes with my baby in tow (I'm adept at jumping into hedges, but buggies aren't!).
Babywearing helped us and our son to carry on exploring the world as we wanted. We may not have made it up Ben Nevis, but we have scaled Glastonbury Tor many times. We've also waded through wetlands, successfully navigated stiles, walked coastal paths and even survived a trip to Bath Christmas Market on a weekend! It enabled us to navigate busy city centres without stress and carry on visiting our favourite cafés and tiny shops with steps and narrow aisles (beware inadvertent shoplifting-by-baby though. Things are so much more interesting & reachable when you're at grown-up height!). As a result, our son was exposed to a huge range of places and experiences that would otherwise have been completely off-limits, while enjoying the comfort and security of being close to mummy or daddy.
Whether your 'mountain' is Ben Nevis, ascending the steps to the patio area of your favourite café, or navigating your way through a busy city high street without having to use your buggy like a snow plough, babywearing can help you conquer that 'Munro'!