They say necessity is the mother of invention. I say desperate mothers need solutions.
Carrying Pape on my back (in Wolof, mbott) has been awesome. It took him a couple times to get used to it, but within a day or so he was right at home. It calms him down faster than the fancy front packs or slings I’d been using, and if he’s tired it puts him to sleep faster than anything else I’ve tried. So yeah, big fans over here.
The problem was that I needed help getting him tied on. So the mbott solution only worked if someone else was around to assist. Then I went to the beach for the weekend and Pape and I had a room to ourselves, which meant no mbott helper. It was just him, me and a piece of cloth shaped like a butterfly bandage. But I was desperate, so gave it a try.
It took a little maneuvering, but we got it to work! (In all fairness, I should get most of the credit. Pape just kind of laid there…) I checked it in the mirror before heading out, then had a friend check it as well. I’ve done it several times since then, each time a little faster and easier. I still need a bed or a big chair to sit on and a mirror to check it, but hey… works for me.
Plus, the Senegalese love it when I wear him on my back.
It usually goes like this: surprised expression, laugh or smile, then I get a thumbs up and/or encouraging comment. Who wouldn’t be motivated by that? Of course, it’s also usually followed by a round of advice (some things cross all cultures, eh?). Older woman, middle-aged man, teenage girl… doesn’t matter. The advice is always the same: “You should feed him. Babies need to nurse a lot. You should feed him right now.”
Just this week I’ve heard this from a security guard, a checkout clerk, a banana vendor and the guy who bags my groceries… Apparently it really does take a village to raise a child. A very big village.