When I Wrap You

When I wrap you, I become hands-free. Whether this is holding a hand, texting a friend on my phone, or sipping a cup of tea as we stroll through the park together, admiring the autumn leaves. When you were nursing a lot as a little baby and I would get unbelievably hungry, it was really handy to be able to eat and hold you at the same time. I can still remember dropping bits of my sandwich on your head and hoping nobody had noticed. Now I use those hands for tickling you as we play games on the walk home or for putting your wellies back on for the millionth time. It was easy for me to spend time with your siblings so they would not resent you, having my hands to help with homework or climb over rocks or swing around, or simply cuddle. It has made things so easy. You fit right in. I love you.

When I wrap you, it's quick and easy. You are as deft and capable as a little monkey, you have been trained so well. I remember those early days when I would sweat and cry and worry I would drop you but something told me I needed to get it right. As my brain struggled to understand this new skill I was trying to learn and I would be frustrated with me, and you, I cried. Now you perch on my hip and manoeuvre yourself with confidence and my hands are so quick I don't even think. We learned that together. I love you.

When I wrap you, we get each other's body temperature. This is harder in summer when we stick to each other and the fabric makes me sweat. It's wonderful in winter as I don't have to worry about you, snuggled in and warm. Remember when you were in the womb and we shared everything? This gentle transition to becoming a separate person feels natural and right. I hope you enjoyed the warm water when I carried you inside, just like you enjoy cuddling in now when you're tired. Remember when you were a little baby and you would sleep in the wrap for hours? I would smell your sweet head and that milky breath and get a rush of oxytocin to help me heal from your birth. I love you.

When I wrap you, people look at us strangely. Sometimes they smile. You love the attention. They said you'd be clingy if I never put you down but do you know, it's worked the other way? From your safe little haven you can smile and talk to strangers and not worry about them coming too close. They can't when you are beside me. When you're up high like that you become more like a person than a child and it makes my heart sing to see you included in the world. A part of these conversations, observing these gestures, you learn so much! Your language is growing at an incredible rate. How did I produce such a child? You amaze me. I love you.

When I wrap you, I don't have to worry about you crying. When you were just born and I was a scared new mum, I would frantically rock you in your pram to get you to stop crying. If only I had known you just wanted to be near me. If I know that need is fulfilled I can relax and enjoy you, as we go about the world together. It reassures me to know we have had that close body contact, that emotional need that ensures our wellbeing. Together we make each other stronger. I'm sorry that I didn't work it out sooner. I love you.

When I wrap you, we can explore the world together. The places we go, I sometimes think, what if you are the first baby to have been there? Across a rocky beach to an island, up a hill, in a fortress. My legs burn and ache as we climb but it feels liberating, it feels incredible. The experiences we have shared together will stay in my memory forever, your wide eyes as they take in everything you've seen. We immerse ourselves in nature and the wonders the world has to offer. This I am able to give you. I love you.

When I wrap you, I am practising an ancient art that was nearly lost to women. Using garments or cloth to fasten their babies to their bodies, bending to their work or travelling long distances. Whether in beautiful, purpose-woven fabric or an old bit of sack, the purpose the same. Those little ones held safe and secure against their mothers' strong bodies, observing and learning. You are not a burden, I want you here close to me. It is easier when we are together than apart. Go through the world with me. I love you.

When I wrap you, in some ways it is no different from the first time. Your weight never changes, I grow in strength daily. The same fabrics have held and supported your growing body and although the times are fewer now, they will be there to hold you. The soft, worn and stained patterns hold the memories of our life together and the weight of my love for you. I have tried to show you the best way I can. I love you.

When I wrap you, it is for convenience. You walk everywhere now, my strong independent soul, the carrier waiting for its golden opportunity. Those soft words, 'Mummy, wrap' or the indignant, 'No, mummy, walk' - how furious you are when I get it wrong! These times of closeness are fewer and far between and I will soon have to come up with more inventive ways of mothering you, but this way has always worked. I love you.

When I wrap you, I know it's changed my life. Who would have thought that I would teach people how to do this? It has become a skill, a passion, a way to help other mothers bond with their babies.  You have helped and taught me. Thank you. I love you.

When I wrap you, it is defiant. The support and encouragement I longed for was never given. The surprise when they realised how well it works. I kept going because I am stubborn by nature, I can see you are too. So the opposition was in fact a gift, it spurred me to learn and stick with it. When you are older you may be embarrassed by your difficult mother who always has to do things her own way. But remember, little one, it worked in your favour once. I will remember you smiling and chatting and reaching those tiny arms around my neck and bringing your head to the side for a kiss. What waves we have made together. I love you.