Yes I saw you looking, standing there in your corporate suit, immaculate make up and smart handbag. I saw as you glanced me up and down and gave me a look of distain. I tried to look you in the eye to show I didn’t care (but yes I did). I know I looked hot, tired and a bit disheveled. But, hey I was a tourist. Visiting a city you don’t know well is tiring, especially when you are sightseeing with young children.
If I had been there alone, you wouldn’t have given me a second look. It would have been easier for me to blend into the back ground and hubbub of a bustling station. I know why you kept looking. The leggy 5 year old falling asleep on my back in a carrier was hard to miss. Hey, if he’s been having a piggy back I expect you wouldn’t have looked either (or even asleep in a buggy).
Children need close contact with caregivers. It provides stability and a sense of calm. A busy underground station is scary when your five. You are standing at knee height, it could be easy to lose the hand of mum. A five year old who is exhausted from walking miles around museums and the city centre is also going to slow you down as he trudges along the platform and up the steps.
So yes, I’ll carry him. I’ll carry him for as long as he needs me. In doing so yesterday, he got to have a nap and thus be able to enjoy the rest of his day trip to the capital, I didn’t require a seat on the tube (although thank you to the lady and gentlemen who both offered theirs to me), I took up less space than I would have if I’d used a buggy.
I’m pretty tough skinned. After seven years of carrying and helping thousands of families to carry their own babies, preschoolers and older children, I have heard and seen it all. Carrying older children may not be common, it doesn’t though make it wrong.
So, to the lady on the tube I simply ask that you don’t judge other mothers and fathers as you judged me yesterday. I’m a tough cookie, I will keep doing what I need to for the good of my family. Other mums and dads though, may not yet have the confidence to carry on regardless (Thanks Beautiful South) and may be put off by that look.