The Sling Diaries, Volume VII. A photo-documentary chronicling the art of baby wearing in the lives of families around the world. Over the course of six months, Sling Diarists will create their own Sling Diary though a series of diary entries interpreting a unique theme given to them each month.
Meet all of our Sling Diarists here.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” - Lewis Carroll
He was wrapped in a pink, blue, and white striped flannel hospital blanket, “Bethesda Hospital” inked onto the edge, a blanket that had possibly wrapped 100+ babies. His cheeks rounded into the fat, pudge of his upturned nose. Pink lips curled into what seemed like a lazy, Mona Lisa-esque smile. Blonde hair covered every inch of his curled limbs like a fine layer of down. He was quite literally the softest, most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I found myself watching him always, he became my new television. I tuned into every frequency he showcased. It was as if he were practicing all the expressions his adult-self would someday use. His little round face flitted between expressions of amusement, sadness, anger, surprise. They said to nap when the baby did, but all I could do was watch him. Eventually exhaustion gave way and sleep won out, but to ensure I didn’t forget one single moment of his babyhood I leaned into documenting it. Long before phones had cameras, even before digital cameras were affordable, I fumbled my way through learning the art of an old Pentax K-1000 film SLR. I produced lots of half darkened images as I perfected the shutter and exposure combos. I over exposed hundreds of negatives. And underexposed just as many. Who knows how many hundreds of dollars spent of developing film as I gained confidence in photography. Slowly my ability to capture the moments I never, ever wanted to forget came into focus. And thus was born my love of documenting and photography. Born out of my firstborn has came a passion that I have carried in my heart for 17 years.
Motherhood, I use to say doesn’t define me, I define motherhood. But now, I’m not so sure. Maybe its a little of both, I wonder. I mean, when I give myself the mindfulness to look back, I can clearly see all these milestones, sharp turns marked by my children, the effects of their lives on mine would be silly to deny.
Motherhood and I have been working each other out for a long time. It’s like a dance between two new partners. We have been learning each other’s rhythms and nuances, perfecting an age old routine that has ensured the survival of our species for thousands of years. It really is a force to be celebrated. The way mothers shape their young and how our young shape us. A mutual creation of interconnected-ness and individuality.
Kid number one seduced me with his mesmerizing babyness. It was him to led me to photography. He taught me that I was capable of extremely hard things. He brought Master-level dedication into my life as I focused in a way that I never had before him. He opened my heart.
Kid number two pulled my heart into Anthropology. The direction his life brought into mine was akin to the wind in the sails of a not so maiden voyage. His ability to smile in the face of difficulty, his ability to turn anyone to mush, his soft nature in turn softened me. He taught me to listen more and reminded me that being silly is essential to our well-being.
Kid number three brought novelty. She brought red hair and a dimple chin. She brought a passion for birth, for empowerment. She brought a new first, a daughter to love. Her life placed my feet on the path of a space holder. She resurrected my warrior. A true North compass reset. The rebirth of a new Matrilineal beginning.
Kid number four. His lesson has first and foremost always been patience. 17 days past his due date. Does things at his own rate. Does not do well with being rushed, with rushed energy of any sort. Born into this life with fists flying, voice testifying. My master teacher, reminding me to cool the flames of anger. He calls into my being a version of myself that I didn’t know existed.
Kid number five. The tester. The prankster. The daredevil. The one who brings into focus everything I still don’t know about mothering. He has also shown me all that I do know. What he has to teach is still in the throes of being taught. But daily I can feel the growth. I can feel part of me moving aside to allow for a new expression of myself. He has reminded me to be humble. That it’s okay to move quickly. That we all have our innate langue. He too brought red hair and a dimple chin.
Discovery of self via motherhood has been such a profound experience. I can feel the layers complimenting each other, sliding past, billowing together, transitioning into the expression of self you all see. Motherhood has been for me a catalyst to great growth and the most terrifying, instrumental discoveries of who I am. To allow for growth I sometimes had to embrace parts of myself that I was ashamed of or would rather forget, but motherhood often calls us into the best versions of ourselves and that requires we move through the muck.
Motherhood is still in the process of defining me and I am still in the process of reflecting on how I define motherhood. This is a process. One beautiful, hectic, insane, difficult, process. The beautiful thing is, its not static, its dynamic and always, always shifting. I know that I will enjoy watching the mother I continue to become and the lessons my children continue to impart. They are continually helping to create the mother they and the world need. What a powerful masterpiece motherhood is.
All photography by Milk & Hannah