Today I’m reflecting on the library, how it started and where it is now.
Seven years ago me and the child went to our first (and last so far!) protest picnic, it was something to do with breastfeeding and I’m still a bit confused as to what but we went along anyway, here we are:
That was the best t shirt ever by the way, it said “I make milk, what’s your superpower!” Celia was 9 months old, sling meets and sling libraries were a rarity, to find a local group I used to walk ten minutes to the train station sit on a train for forty minutes to walk another fifteen minutes to the venue. I did this while heavily pregnant, and in summer! At the end of all that travelling though I met some people who changed my life and gave me the confidence to parent the way my instincts told me (Kerry and Clare, I will always be indebted to you). They ran a sling meet which is (usually) essentially untrained peer support. And it was fabulous.
By the time of the picnic I has just moved from a wrapsody stretchy, experimented with a Storchenwiege woven and settled on a Joey mei tai as being my go to.
Then me and my friend saw Emma, this is her on the right, she’s also known as Jojasca who makes the hats for the demo dolls and little babywearing boots!
She swung her daughter up on her back in her mei tai, you know what Rachel once said about feeling the need to put a busking cap down when she wrapped, well there was nearly applause from us when Emma back carried we were that impressed. We rushed over to ask her how she did it.
I’m still not sure how but by the time we finished that conversation I’d agreed to start a sling meet in Warrington. And a month later we had our first meet up in Palmyra Square in Warrington. (How I wish I’d thought to take photos!)
Back then we had one inexperienced and untrained organiser backed up by some experienced babywearers (thank you to Emma, Sarah who is with her above and all the others!). I then went on to get experience and five years ago I qualified as a consultant after completing my Trageschule foundation course. I have added a Trageschule advanced qualifitation to my belt and we’re now a team of one consultant, six trained peer supporters and three untrained admin volunteers
Back then it was an informal meet, now we have have grown from one venue through many different ones to five venues and I’m in the process of organising a sixth (gah, why do I do things things to myself!).
Back then the only slings that were available were the ones people owned and there was no option to take home (usually!). Now we have over 150 slings/carriers available with at least half out on hire at any one time!
Back then I didn’t think to worry about insurance, child protection, bank accounts, funding, aims and objectives, data protection, self assessment tax returns, environment, liability, testing, toxicity, cpd, risk assessments, finance and all the other miriade of important but intensely dull minutiae that make up the daily running and improving of the library services.
Back then as it grew I bank rolled the library, now it pays me an admittedly rather bijou wage but a wage nonetheless and it is my full time job that allows me to still be the parent my daughter needs me to be.
Back then I solved many of Celia’s troubles with a ride in the sling, even now at the grand old age of 7 years and nine months sometimes all she needs is a cuddle from her mum to help her face the world again. (And sometimes her mum needs to sneak in a cuddle too to know that her little girl is ok facing the world.)
Next month we’re going to have a Birthday party for the library to celebrate the anniversary of our first meet, come and join us and here’s to many more years of growth for the library!
One last thing, very special thanks have to go to Duna Scarott, without her I wouldn’t have had even nearly as many giggling fits as I have done over the years!