Baby Wearing In The Balkans

I wore both my kids. Of course I believe all of that hoopla about closeness, bonding and safe security, but I did have an ulterior motive: baby wearing was the easiest way to keep my hands free when my then-infants insisted upon being all up in my grill.

There were phases in which maneuvering for an inch of personal space on my part would send either of them into a fit of anger.

Hence, the sling, the Bjorn, the wrap, etc.
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I wore D for about a year, until she was a stable walker. She was light enough, but my son got very heavy very quickly. So, by the time I moved to Belgrade when Maksim was five months old, the Bjorn just wasn’t cutting it for either M or I. Baby wearing is definitely a thing in the U.S., but I wondered about the Balkans.

It turns out, yes, people wear their babies here in the Balkans … even dads.

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But Baby Wearing with a pink, hippie-esque wrap? Not so much.

I met Alice and Vladimir about ten years ago through my husband’s rather vast network of born-and-raised-in-the-Balkans-but-live-in-Los-Angeles-now friends. Alice is not from the Balkans, she’s American of Vietnamese ethnicity, so it was rather a funny coincidence that we both became parents and moved to Southern Europe around the same time.

Alice marches to the beat of her own drum, makes her own clothes, and is a very cool girl all around. When I saw this picture of her now husband, Vladimir–baby wearing their daughter, in pink no less–I had to ask about it.

Side notes: Have I mentioned before that Serbia is a very homogenous culture?

Differences of even the smallest kind are readily noticed (replete with raised eyebrows and head shaking in unabashed surprise).

Differences are nearly always commented upon. I guess I should be happy it’s done to my face. Observations are not necessarily said in a bad way, but it does get annoying when in only one morning, five grandmas ask why my daughter isn’t wearing socks with her shoes. (It’s only okay in summer, apparently. It’s still technically spring, and even though it’s 80+ degrees F outside, it’s not okay.)

[End of side note.] Now, Alice and her family lived in Croatia (a different country than Serbia, but still the Balkans). She said

Croatia’s collective mind simultaneously imploded at the sight of Vladimir walking around like this. He got many concerned warnings that he might be considered a “homo.” *Gasp!*

We were at the mall and I swear, he must have caused some severe whiplash among the shoppers.

Full disclosure: when Vladimir wore the pink wrap with their son inside years before, it made no sense even to Americans. Alice, she had “no ulterior gender motives or political statements–orange was just out of stock.”

Still awesome, nonetheless.

My husband did wear our daughter, for what it’s worth, but that was in “progressive” Southern California, and only to give my back a break … with a decidedly black carrier. If I ever see a dad baby wearing with a pink wrap in Serbia, I’ll be sure to take a picture.

source www.laura-dennis.com/baby-wearing-in-the-balkans/

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Laura Dennis

About Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis was adopted and raised on the East Coast of the United States. A professionally trained dancer, Laura gave up aches and pains and bloody feet in her mid-twenties to become a sales director at a biotech startup. Then with two children under the age of three, she and her husband sought to simplify their lifestyle and in 2010 they escaped to his hometown, Belgrade. While the children learned Serbian in their cozy preschool, Laura recovered from sleep deprivation and wrote Adopted Reality, A Memoir. She blogs at Expat (Adoptee) Mommy