2 parents, 3 kids (+ 1 on the way), 1 grandma, 1 sister, 1 carrier
When I arrive at the house of Kelly McKnight, Sincerely Mama founder and Community Manager for Ergobaby, she and her favorite Ergo greet me at the door. This mama of three will be a mama of four in a couple of months, so the Original carrier she used for years is on deck once again. Midway through our interview, Kelly’s own mom appears on her way out the door. She spots the Ergo on the sofa: “Is that the same one I wore?” Yup, in this beautiful story, babywearing is a family affair.
Where and when did you first get your Ergo?
My first child, JJ, had colic when he was little and a friend said, “You should really try babywearing. Ergo saved me.” But it was so long ago that Ergo was not in Buy Buy Baby or Target yet. It was still part of a granola mom, crunchy mom world. So I found this hippie, cool little shop in Claremont, California, and all the way in the back, there were some Ergos. When I put it on, it was just a godsend. The biggest thing I remember feeling from it was empowered. Like, Ok, I found this; that was empowering because it was hard to find. And then just getting a little bit of my freedom back. That was eight and a half years ago.
And you used it with your second and third kids, too?
Oh yeah. My first and second kids are only 14 months apart, so it was crazy town around my house. [Laughs] I remember thinking, I’m going to need extra hands! So yeah, I used it with Kaila, my daughter. Then I used the same one and a couple more with Jameson, my third child. And I’m going to do the same thing with my fourth. I mean, from sicknesses to crying spells to just needing to do laundry or dishes, Ergo has been such a help for me all these years. It’s been a real constant in my life.
How old are your kids now?
So my oldest is 8. Then Kaila is almost 7. And the youngest is 4. And then we’re pregnant with our fourth. [Kelly’s husband comes down the stairs on his way to work.] This is my husband, Jason. And even for him, babywearing has been…. I mean, my mom babywears our kids; Jason babywears our kids.
Had your mom ever babyworn before?
You know, I don’t think so. But with my kids, we would go places and I’d be like, “Mom, why don’t you throw a baby on your back?” And she was like, “I’d love to.” And even my sister, she’s babyworn some of my babies. For my mom and sister to be able to bond with the kids, too…for them, it’s the same thing: empowering.
What’s a favorite Ergo memory?
Oh gosh, there are so many. But one of them is…right after delivery, you have to come in for that first appointment and, with my oldest, it took us, like, an hour to get out of the house. I was fully stocked: the car seat, the stroller, the toys on the car seat. That first child you feel like you need to leave with the whole bedroom. And then with the second, you just get it more, you know? So with Kaila, I was like, I’m just going to throw her in the Ergo. That was a favorite moment for me, recognizing the difference between the paranoid, first-time mom to the second-time mom, feeling like, Ok, baby, we got this. Let’s roll!
If your Ergo could say something to you, what would it say?
[Kelly pauses, thinking, then tears up.] It’s making me emotional; I love Ergo for so many reasons. But honestly, it would say, “You got this,” or “We got this.” I feel like the Ergo is a friend, like [talking to the carrier] “I’m going to tuck you away until the next kid.” And every kid I bring it out no matter what, even just for respect purposes. [Laughs] Like “I owe you! You have to carry this next baby, too!” So yeah, that’s what I think it would say to me, “We got this, and you still got this after all these years.”
Fill in the blank: I always have ________ in the storage pouch.
I mean, if we’re talking about the Original, I have my whole life in there; the pouch is so huge! A couple diapers, a onesie for blowouts, a pacifier, keys, a cereal bar for me. Sanitizer—I’m that mom—so sanitizer. Those are my go-tos.
What superpower does putting on your Ergo give you?
Oh my gosh, it’s like a cape. I back carry all my kids once they get to about 11 months. So once my babies are walking and I can clip it on and kneel down and they know what to do and just jump on. [Laughs] You clip it, you’re like, I’m ready!
What’s one piece of advice you have for a new mom?
So I remember Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked, the moccasin company, she once said in an interview: Balance is BS. And it’s really stuck with me. Don’t allow that destination or that goal of balance to drive you crazy. You will get to the laundry. You will get to the dishes. You will even get to a shower. [Laughs] You will get to it, Mama and Dad. Just do the best you can, take it one day at a time. But don’t try to make things perfect because then you’re expecting something that’s not realistic, and so your journey won’t be what you want it to be.
I feel like that’s such the struggle, you have so many voices in your head, My house is a mess, my…
Yes! You can have mom guilt for the littlest things—I didn’t clip my baby’s nails—to things like, I wasn’t able to breastfeed, I’m a bad mom! You’re a mom! You’re keeping your baby alive; you’re loving on your child. Don’t hold higher expectations for yourself than what your baby’s holding for you. You know?
Tell us about the joys and jobs of parenting.
The jobs for me are, for sure, sick days. Those are so hard. And not just sick days for the kids, but sick days for us as moms. How many times are we able to be like, “I’m calling in sick today, kids”? So there’s the job of pushing through no matter what. The job of trying to find that balance that doesn’t exist. The job, at this chapter of my motherhood life, of sports games, studying for tests. So now, to transition into the joys, the joys of all those jobs. Like, what if you step back and say, I’ll never get this day back again. Even the hard moments, you’ll never get those back. So what if you say, This job is the joy. Right now, we’re at the end of baseball and softball season. So we have about nine practices and games a week. It’s nuts! But then, once I get [to the field] I’m like, Look at my babies out there enjoying themselves. And those are the joys. I feel like I’m far from perfect; I’m learning every day. But it’s about trying to find the beauty in the struggle.
Where will your Ergo go to retire?
It will be passed down to my kids. They’ll all see me wear my Ergo with my fourth and, now that they’re older, they’ll be able to understand my process of getting through with my Ergo. So when my daughters have their own children, I’ll be able to wrap this up for them, even just as a memory of, like, Mom struggled, Mom didn’t have it all together. [Kelly tears up.] But there is a way out of that, you know? So…[laughs] it will eventually retire with my children.
Describe your Ergo life in three words.
Empowering. I always go back to that. Once you snap those snaps, you feel good, you feel in control. And then, pure. Because, gosh, the comfort for you and your child sometimes it’s so pure, it’s childlike. And then, reliable. From the quality of the materials to knowing, like, Ok, my kid is sick and wants love, but I have stuff to do…you can rely on your Ergo. When I started my motherhood journey eight years ago, there were people babywearing, but it wasn’t like now. It’s so amazing to see what the babywearing movement has come to for parents across the world; it’s beautiful, it really is.