The Practice, Not the Product

There is something in the Babywearing community that needs to be said.

Babywearing can be an addiction.

In all seriousness, over the last two years I have very much struggled with the addiction of stalking and purchasing wraps and even buying “dips”. I am stepping out to admit that I have caused my family financial hardship and damage because of my addiction to stalking and spending wraps.

I am not alone.

When I first started to plan my babywearing adventures I was just a few months pregnant. I had been working as a doula when one of my clients showed me her beautiful Silk Ring Sling. I remember being in awe of it’s beauty. It was a rich plum color and the shine was unbelievable. I asked her how much it cost and she replied with “too much” and later I did the research and was shocked. I never thought I’d spend a substantial amount of money on a wrap, but eventually would make myself sick with my spending by the time I realized that I had become addicted.

First to admit, I’m no stranger to addiction. My past is a long story, but I’ve spent many years in therapy and healing to break free from those cycles of addiction. In some ways it was clear right away that the adrenaline rush of releases was going to be a problem for me. I found myself caught up in rush of stalking and purchasing. It started fairly harmless. Quickly after starting to buy wraps, my passion for wrapping developed into a full on addiction. Soon I spent hours each day reading the Facebook groups, stalking wrap pages and spending money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need. I wanted to “Try all of the Things” (it’s a joke and a meme) and like many others, be a tester. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be a part of the “select few” it seemed were being handed testers over and over. I wanted to be special too. I greatly admired the babywearing models and desperately wanted to be a part of the community. I didn’t care that many of these women came from different circumstances, knew the wrap makers, and/ or had the ability to fund these frequent purchases, but I didn’t and did it anyways. I felt an insane need to compete and keep up.

In hopes of becoming a tester, I applied for countless babywearing ambassador positions, sent emails, and even wrote reviews on the wraps I purchased. It was heartbreaking as I dealt with the emotions of those countless rejections.

What was wrong with me? I questioned myself constantly,

Am I not pretty enough?

Good enough?

Smart enough?

Is my story not interesting enough?

With the rejections I kept spending out of hopes maybe someday I’d buy enough they’d see my name and write a special note next to it like I’d seen on the groups. Particular companies being so highly sought after, I began to buy things I didn’t even want in hopes of trading for what I did, but ended up losing my butt 99% if the time. I learned you can’t always anticipate what will be HSA.

While some people were able to purchase on credit cards. I directly took money out of our checking and savings accounts to pay for these wraps I didn’t even want. During this time I’d feel horrible about my purchases and joke that when times got tough, like Michael Bluth said, ”There’s always money in the banana stand..”

Well, there was at least money in the wraps. (or so you hope)

An experience in particular was kind of the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. The dark side of babywearing became clear to me. This could be an addiction in it’s purest form and I had succumbed to it.

I had spent an entire day stalking a release. There was no set time so it was an entire day of sitting by my computer hitting refresh. I found myself frustrated with my son. He just wanted my attention, but I was too focused on scoring a wrap.

If you’ve never stalked a HSA release before, you’re afraid to get up to pee, eat, do anything. Eventually the page was loaded, the wraps released and sold immediately, I lost on submit and I cried.

I cried actual tears over not scoring a wrap.

It didn’t matter that I had nine other wraps in my closet.

Quickly the sadness was replaced with anger towards myself.

How could I waste an entire day with my child?

How on earth was a piece of fabric more important than him?

Then I became angry at the community. I was mad at this insane need to stalk and keep up. I was tired of feeling jealous over the fact that people could afford to buy what they wanted and when. These women could afford faster internet, nicer wraps and more of them than I ever could. I realized there was no competing. I realized that there was no way I could ever become a tester without selling my soul to the internet. I could sit in groups all day trying to make friends and hope to some day be a part of the lucky few who buy what they want, when they want.. But it wasn’t a reality and it was time to close that chapter.

Shortly after that experience I decided to give up on stalking releases, but still struggled with “dipping” or the new practice of raffling off wraps. I kept justifying my spending with “Statistically the odds are better!” “How cool would it be to win x Wrap for only $5!!”

Eventually I had to remove myself from all of the groups on facebook, because it was too tempting to spend money. I purchased hundreds of dollars in dips over the year or so I struggled with my addiction and never won. So how about those statistics?

The process of trying to break free from the spending cycle took me about a year. I’ve decided to try and focus on the practice of babywearing instead of the products. I studied and became a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with Babywearing International.

I’m down to my “permastash” of just a few carriers and wraps. Recently we had an emergency car repair and my most expensive wrap has been sitting unsold on the swaps for over a week despite price drops and everything else. HSA company, rare wrap with only 3 on earth and yet still, unsold.

It’s a painful reminder that addiction comes in many forms. My addiction to purchasing wraps is still affecting my family even though I have not purchased one in many months. I greatly encourage anyone who is struggling with addiction to stalking and spending to please get help.

I am very thankful that my years in therapy gave me to tools to recognize that things were getting out of control before it got any worse. In some ways I’m thankful I didn’t have the credit card option because I have no doubt I’d be paying off those balances instead of just trying to recoup my loss of savings.

You do not need a wardrobe of wraps to be a babywearer.

You don’t have to own HSA $1000 pieces to bring value to your babywearing community.

You don’t have to ‘buy all the things’ to ‘try all of the things’.

Contact your local babywearing chapter to see what’s available in their lending library. Attend meetings and talk to other mama’s about that they own. Many of us are willing to lend our personal wraps to people we know, or at least let you try it out at a meeting.

If you are funding wrap purchases on credit card, struggling with overspending on dips or wraps, or addictions of any kind, please know you aren’t alone. Help is out there.

Written 2/23/2016

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