Jeanne, on Kinship. Sling Diaries, Vol VII.

December 07, 2017

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.

ON KINSHIP

"Dearest Saoirse,

One day I will tell you stories of your first moments and I will tell you this : the first year of our lives together, we didn't really live anywhere.

I have spent the last five years trying to unburden myself of everything I thought I didn't need. Turns out, we don't need much at all – everything we own at the moment takes up a big travel bag, which your Papa carries through airports and train stations (I carry you), plus a small backpack containing our cameras, all your baby clothes, and a few random treasures we couldn't bring ourselves to part with.

I can't lie and say I haven't doubted the decisions I've made since I fell pregnant with you. I remember how I decided that we wouldn't go back to Europe, and that you were going to be born in Ecuador, because I had such a clear vision of your birth in our home. How I asked our families not to come to Ecuador before your birth, as I wanted this space, our space, to be respected and peaceful. How I chose to surround myself with a team of women who didn't speak my language, and who became the angels watching over you as you made your way into the world. I know all these choices were difficult to understand for some – but I believe they were ultimately the best thing for us.

When I was alone, leaving everything – home, possessions, jobs, family and friends – to go adventuring on my own seemed... easy. Too easy. I could do it in the blink of an eye. You could have called it selfish, and maybe it wouldn't be entirely wrong. I thought you being there would make travel complicated, but it feels simpler than ever – we keep packing light, bringing only the clothes you'll need, and we have marveled at how serene you are on the move, whether it's taking a ten hours flight back to Europe or riding eight hours in a stuffy ecuadorian bus. You are happy looking at the window, mesmerized by the landscape unfolding in front of your eyes. You'll sleep anywhere as long as you can be in our arms.

It is simple, still. But it is also slower, and more conscious, the thought process leading to the next move more convoluted and subtle. I ask myself: will our life give you enough roots to grow? Will you miss the family that we only see a few times a year, if at all? Will you resent me for not giving you a permanent childhood home you can remember in bliss always?

As I write this, tiny Saoirse, we live on a little island nestled on the west coast of Scotland, 5000 miles from where you were born. It opens on the Atlantic. Wind blows fiercely here, an icy wave running through the short shimmering grass of the moors. Our home for the winter is a tiny room in a hotel. A warm pink glow coming through our window every morning as we wake up.

You sleep between us, take your baths in the sink. And sometimes I wonder if it is enough, what we have to give – a little space in a beautiful corner of the world, ours only for a moment. I wonder if we are taking you away from a community you might long for. It's strange, but in a sense, you are attracting a community here. Islanders can be proud and distant, but with you around, we're never treated like outsiders – everyone knows and asks about you, and we are greeted like friends, not strangers.

During my pregnancy a lot of people asked me if our lifestyle was going to change with you coming. Are we going to keep traveling or settle somewhere for the next twenty years, because you're here ? I could not tell then, and I cannot now. Maybe we will always be like this – two people carrying lightweight bags and a little girl, catching a last minute flight to their next home. Maybe there will be other little ones to carry. Maybe along the way we will find a place and people we can't bear to leave behind, and someday we won't even remember that once home was an perpetual in between, an shoulder marked red by the strap of a bag, the freshness of the air after a long flight.

For the moment, here we are. And although I worry that maybe this is too unsettling for you, when I look at you my concerns leave me – you are this peaceful, healthy, thriving little being, and when you smile at me I know that for you, for now, we are enough. That the only belonging you need is between the space of our bodies at night, the permanence of the arms that carry you through the world. I don't know what sort of life we will give you, little one, but I know that we are kindred. You give us that. You made us that.

On the wall of our room there is a quote, written years ago by someone I don't know. It says : « A person can belong in as much as they are willing to cherish and be cherished by a place and its people ». I think it is just perfect."

...................................

Follow along with Jeanne over on Instagram, @womanoftheriver, and The Sling Diaries on Pinterest