I’ve written a few times about how important it is for me to feel like I am being open, and the challenges I’ve faced in that regard. It’s something I’ve really been working on. I’m trying to make an effort to be more social, but also to be more open in my socialization.
A few days ago I volunteered to help this organization, Carry the Future (carrythefuture.org), and much of my efforts have been in that direction, because it’s something that just kind of came into my life and something I really care about. It also happens to be something that requires me to leave my comfort zone, both because I have to socialize with people I don’t know and because I also have to ask people for things. ::Shudder::
The organization collects gently used baby carriers and volunteers bring the carriers to Greece and fit Syrian refugees with small children. They also distribute baby socks and protein bars, and any other small items they can manage to bring along. Amazing idea. Amazing organization.
For the past seven years I haven’t become an expert lawyer, or really an expert on anything, but I have gained a lot of experience in a few specific areas, mostly involving human feces and other bodily fluids, but also including carrying, or “wearing” babies. I think partially because I am a small person (and partially because I have eight million babies), baby carriers have been a really important thing for me and have allowed me to carry my children and keep them close for many more hours and many more miles than I otherwise would have been able to.
Let me be clear: I am in no way, shape, or form, a certified expert or anything like that when it comes to using these carriers. I just have a lot of experience, and I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way. I can remember with my oldest daughter, struggling to get a wrap to work, standing in my living room holding a crying baby, fighting back tears myself, unfolding and flattening out the little instruction booklet and biting my tongue to keep from cursing in front of the baby. I remember the first time I flew on a plane with her by myself, trying to figure out how to buckle and unbuckle the Baby Bjorn without any help, and all of the miles I walked with an Ergo strapped to my body and an arm under the baby because my body is too small for it to fit properly. All of that experience has to be worth something, right?
Still, I’m not at a point in my life where hopping on a plane and flying to Greece for seven days makes a lot of sense. For one thing, I can probably carry fewer pounds than the average adult, although, maybe not, I am pretty strong. Still, I think physically there are probably better candidates. Also, for me to make a trip like that, it would take probably three different people to stop what they are doing to help take care of my children, and the numbers just don’t add up. If I’m really honest, and unfortunately I am, I’ll admit I also can’t stand the idea of being away from my own children for seven days. I get queasy at the thought of three days.
I’m trying to find other ways to help. I’ve posted a few things, thought about a few ideas. I joined the volunteer group and messaged another volunteer in my area to coordinate, and I added her as a Facebook friend. I didn’t know anything else about her, I just added her. I joined a new baby wearing group too, and while offering advice to new moms looking for help, I threw in a line about the organization (it was promptly deleted and I was warned against breaking the rules). I messaged a baby boutique we used to frequent in Brooklyn and they were thrilled and joined the group. I posted something on a baby wearing group I was already involved in and they also deleted what I posted because I wasn’t selling anything. I went on Craigslist and messaged people selling soft carriers to ask them for a donation. I found three different posts and contacted all of them. I sent messages to complete strangers and asked if they would consider donating their carrier rather than collect $50 or $100. One replied and basically told me to go to Hell, another said she had already sold it, but a third said he and his wife would love to help, and I’m picking up the carrier on Wednesday.
All of that is to say that it’s been hit or miss. I’m trying, really trying, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but even if I reach out fifty times and only end up with five more carriers, that’s five more families who will be able to have a little bit of peace and will hopefully feel a little bit of love and a little bit of welcome.
I really want to help and I really want to make a difference, and this really feels like the perfect challenge. It’s a great cause, it’s forcing me outside of my comfort zone in all of the best ways, and I think with all of the bad things happening in the world, it’s nice to feel like I’m part of something good. The organization isn’t religiously affiliated and it isn’t political. It’s a group of people who want to help Syrian refugees with small children. Simple. Good.