For most days of the week, I wear my son in a soft structured baby carrier (similar to this one from LilleBaby). He is nestled right under my chin during his quieter moments, or bucks around, straining against the material that is surprisingly strong when he is more curious and frustrated with being contained within it. During all those times, I am content knowing that I can wrap my arms around his small body and hold him close, for reassurance (both his and mine), for comfort, for knowing that we two do, indeed, form a multitude.
But these last two Fridays I’ve taken our stroller. E doesn’t complain too much at this different form of transportation, and my back has enjoyed the rest. What I noticed today, though, as we wheeled our way home down the sidewalks in the sunshine (!), greeting more and more of the ground uncovered by snow, was how much I enjoy holding him to me on those usual days. Sure, he’s usually asleep, but there’s something about his baby snores or his attempts at words and songs as he sees something that delights him that sound quite different when he is in the cocoon of the stroller.
How can I miss him when he is not so far away?
I think he misses it, too, or at least realizes these stroller days are different. Whereas he is usually a mellow baby, on the days when I don’t wear him, he seems to insist on being carried around the house as soon as he is out of the stroller, so much so that I do, indeed, end up putting him up in a ring sling or trying a new carry in another wrap.
I keep thinking of a line of poetry from Marilyn Nelson’s The Fields of Praise (another fine gift of poetry from my teacher friend who taught me not to fear the teaching of poetry, thereby changing my approach and increasing my appreciation for it exponentially) in the poem “Mama’s Promise”:
I carry him around
like an egg in a spoon
I don’t carry him so apprehensively (though I am sure I did when he was brand new), but I do carry him, daily marveling at how much longer he feels, how his weight seems much more centered on one part of my body. Never heavy, but different, a reminder that the days are passing before, I fear, he will be too big to carry.
I am most surprised that I feel so bittersweet about these moments. He is growing and changing and it is a marvel to witness but I blink, and a month has gone by and I seem to remember none of it. It is in the comfort of the routines, of asking if he wants to “go uppy,” of his grin as he “helps” me buckle him in and we head down the steps that allows me to pause the moment–just pause–as I carry him into the day.