The Phantom Sling

Today while scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw a beautiful ring sling. Suddenly, I felt the “phantom sling” and baby.

My baby turns 16 in August. She spent a good part of her first two years of life in the sling. She continued off and on in the sling for a few years more. To this day, I am sure if she came across it, she would wrap it around herself.
But, in reality, there has been no baby in the sling regularly for 14 + years. You’d think the “phantom sling” feelings would fade. Yes, I magic slinged Pippin a few times. (Magic. Loved.) That isn’t the baby I feel there. It is still my youngest. I played around with various other child carrying solutions with first born and second born. They weren’t the same. Too complicated. Too many straps. Uncomfortable. The babies didn’t like them.

Then there was youngest. I fell for the sling hard. Good thing because she was a baby that needed a lot of holding, carrying, nursing, movement. Part of that was that she WAS the youngest, so there was no stopping mid-day for nap–school pick up, preschool pick up, soccer, lessons, playdates. There generally was some place to go. Or I was working (online) and she needed mommy at the same time. She also wasn’t the independent entertainment that her older siblings had down at an early age.

Fear not! She’s my most independent child now. She’ll take off on her bike anywhere. She is working harder than any of the other children at getting her driving license as soon as she can possibly get it.

Still, she lives in my phantom sling. Close to my heart, close to me. The sensation of her there has not faded and perhaps never will. I wondered if that was an odd thing briefly this morning. But, then I thought, no, that is just where I want to keep her…close to my heart, safe, looking into my face, and with me, even as she wanders with my heart into the big world around her.

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