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Wearing Kids

The woman bounced down the path, her arms pumping strong on her afternoon jog. She looked so fit. So light. So free.

I did my own bouncing as my 2-week-old baby fussed in the Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest. My 4-year-old son was taking his turn in the stroller. My 2-year-old walked beside me, holding my hand that held onto the stroller.

Another person passed us—a biker—also looking fast and free.

I, on the other hand, with three small kids, felt a bit, well, full, and busy, and mostly, tired. And a bit jealous, wishing I could spend my afternoon jogging, or biking, or, should I even dream of it? Napping.

Rebecca with second child, Renea.  Photo by Tripp Flythe.
Rebecca with second child, Renea. Photo by Tripp Flythe.
It has been years since I’ve been on a jog while the sun was up. Been years since I haven’t had to carry a bag full of diapers and sippy cups. Been years since I haven’t worn a kid either in my belly or strapped in a sling to my body, or hooked around my waist.

We made our way to our destination—the park. My son immediately made friends with the only other kid there. Renea ran to the swings. I sat down to feed my little boy.

Another woman walked up to me, remarking about my new baby and my other kids. We talked about babies and feedings and lack of sleep while she watched her employer’s son play in the sand box. She has kids of her own—four of them, each just one year apart. They live in another country—in the Philippines. This single mom had come to Singapore to work as a maid and babysitter, sending her salary back to her mom who cares for her kids. We’d gone to Singapore to give birth to our baby.

The talk quickly moved to deeper things. Religion. God. Regrets. Within 20 minutes, she’d moved from talking about midnight feedings to her heart broken by divorce, then to her unsuccessful attempt to abort her youngest child. And how glad she was that God allowed that child to live.

I’m no longer surprised by such intimate talk with other moms as we sit, covered in sweat, and wearing the essence—and spit-up—of kids. Somehow wearing kids breaks down the barriers. Head coverings and ethnicities and language differences don’t matter so much. We, the moms, nod over sleeping heads as we relate to mommy inadequacy and precious first words and filled hearts.

Finally time to go and I strap on the snuggly baby, manage to convince the headstrong toddler to give up her swing and sit in the stroller, and coax the preschooler to say goodbye to his new best friend. I continue on my way, suddenly feeling like my world, my opportunities and my heart have expanded. This time I remember all the good things I get to have in my life—both big and small—and walk wearing a smile.


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