This guest post was written by Cynthia Roust. She is a full-time mother, wife,imperfect human being, social worker/counselor , and activist (in that order). Although the views and opinions presented here may or may not necessarily be the same as “I Am Not the Babysitter”, we appreciate and respect the educated opinions of all mothers.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately started an online registry and added all the cool gadgets. I always knew I wanted to be a very hands-on mom, but I just took all the baby gadgets as necessary steps towards the commencement of “parenthood”. As I reflected more and more and read parenting books, I started to realize that all of the gadgets are not necessary, and that in a way they will interfere with the kind of mother that I wanted to be. I also made the mistake of looking at mom forums and how kids were addicted to their swing and would not sleep any where else. Somewhere during the nesting process, while my sweet baby was busy growing and creating his body parts with the help of my uterus, I decided I did not need everything that Babies R Us had to offer. I knew that I needed the basics: a car seat and some sort of sleeping contraption. (We also have a wrap, a sling, and a carrier – we liked the Ergo the best because I can breastfeed in it).
After the birth of my baby, some of the gadgets became once again appealing to me. I gave in to my desire and bought a swing and a baby chair bouncer. I heard from previous mothers, in passing, that these two items were lifesavers. To be honest, at the point when I decided to purchase the items, I needed saving. I ordered the items via mail. During the time I was awaiting my “life savers”, I felt guilty. I felt like baby bam bam was better off with real humans to hold him as opposed to plastic. Part of me felt like I failed. I knew all these things have only been around for a short time in the human existence. I reflected on how the wise hunter gatherers dealt with infants without the back up of plastic.
Then it hit me! They did not need the back up plastic because they had the back up humans to support them in the tribe. I am by NO means an anthropologist but I believe that we are pretty much biologically made the same as the hunter gatherers and therefore if I could not hold my baby 24/7, then my guess is they couldn’t either. My guess is that they had many humans to take on the responsibility while the parents rested, ate, drank…you know, the basic needs of human bodies. If mommy wasn’t holding or wearing the baby, another member of the tribe could. I also believe that the tribe folk who helped had their “tribe job” at the time to be the support of the new family. They were not expected to support the family, and hunt, and gather, and take care of their own kids at the same time, which, in many ways, is exactly what most family members do now. With all their love and good intention, modern family members assist new parents the best they can while also having to maintain their own responsibilities. After my analysis, I realized that I am in no way superior nor inferior to our hunter gatherer ancestors. Babies are the same now as they were back then but our society has changed,which in turn makes us feel, as new parents, that we are doing something wrong. When I bought the plastic substitutes, I felt bad. I made a commitment to myself to adopt the attachment parenting style with how I raise Baby Bam Bam, and buying these items made me feel like a cheater, like I was in some way dodging my motherness. I felt like I was a less attached parent then I really thought I should or wanted to be.
Then I had an epiphany! Since we are no longer in tribal societies, but more and more isolated, we are using these baby gadgets to build our tribe back up. I am baby bam bam’s main caregiver and I am so fortunate to have many other humans that also assist. However, since my human back up is not as plentiful as it was in hunter-gather tribes, I added 3 new plastic members to my tribe.
Therefore, I freed myself from guilt. This modern hunter gatherer momma is still taking care of her baby the way babies are meant and designed to be. However, since I live in 2013, I had to make adjustments. I now embrace my tribe, human or not, and am thankful for all the support they provide so baby bam bam is safe and happy and Momma Bam Bam can stay sane and nourished.
Who or what do you include in your tribe?
We at www.Iamnotthebabysitter.com love Comfy Joey ring slings as a “tribe member”. These handmade ring slings are beautiful and comfortable. We also love them because this small company is already supporting global community by donating to Fayye Foundation. Check them out to thank them for their donation!