Mei Tai Memories
While cleaning out the car yesterday, I rediscovered our mei tai, left forgotten and unused in the trunk over the winter. The material is faded and creased, with smudges of dirt staining the ends of the straps from dragging in the dirt as I’d settle Shane up on my back before heading out on yet another path, yet another adventure.
I can’t wash it. Well, to be honest, I can, and probably should…but that dust and those stains hold nearly two years worth of memories. Two years worth of my son falling asleep against my back, as my husband and I hiked on, reconnecting with one another weekend after weekend.
I ordered this mei tai when Shane was about three months old. We had a stretchy wrap that we both loved…but he was growing too heavy to be held securely, and the days were growing too warm for us to remain comfortable enveloped in folds of material. After some creative budget-juggling and a decent amount of time spent researching and virtual window shopping, manipulating the mouse with one hand as Shane nursed, I ordered our mei tai.
This may have been the best, and longest-lasting, baby-related purchase I made.
At first I carried Shane on my front, and quickly learned how to nurse on the go. We took walks around the neighborhood. He’d snuggle in against my chest while I was dealing with household chores. And then we started hiking – my husband and I – with Shane along for the ride, peering out at the world over the top of the carrier as we began exploring the hidden corners of our part of the state.
It was nerve-wracking trying to figure out how to safely maneuver him onto my back, and for months the only way a back carry was possible was when my husband was around. He’d hold Shane in place up against my back and toss the straps over my shoulders so that I could wrestle them into place. My first major outing with my son after I left my job was to head to a city about an hour away to attend a babywearing meeting, where a woman there taught me how to get Shane into a back carry on my own…opening up a whole new world of opportunities for me.
Up until this past November, we were still using the mei tai on longer hikes. On shorter journeys, Shane was eager to get down, and explore the world at his level, at his pace. I’d wind up carrying the carrier, the bulky material wadded up in my arms and long straps trailing awkwardly. I remember following slowly behind as he scampered ahead of me, marveling over his budding independence and shaking my head in amazement that my baby was suddenly big enough to hike…and also feeling that bittersweet pang, that dawning realization that an era has passed.
I’ve been debating whether or not I should start saving and online window-shopping again, for an Ergo. Something that I can use to carry Shane when his little legs become too tired to hike, but can remain cinched unobtrusively around my waist when he’s able and willing to tackle the trails himself.
Whatever I wind up doing, I know I’m hanging onto this mei tai. It’s carefully folded up, the straps tucked securely within the body of the carrier, and set safely aside to be used again, someday down the road. I know that there are many more memories yet to be woven into its fabric.