How beautiful it is to be a baby in South Africa. How I wish I had known how to be a mother like the mothers here. But I didn't know.
That's Anna, the grandmother, in the photo above. Her happy nine-month old grandson, Ayabonga, is content. Ayabonga means Thank you!
In Sacramento, California, where my daughter was born, she had a crib and playpen. She had a room of her own.
In South Africa, the baby sleeps with you.
In Sacramento, I had to go to my daughter's room, open the door, and peek in in order to see her. If she cried, the word was that you were supposed to let her. I never did that. I always went to her, and at six weeks, she slept right through the night. Yes, at six weeks!
In South Africa, during the day, the baby is on your back, always close to you. You see that in the first photo. This is so lovely. When the baby makes sounds, you can make sounds back to the baby. The baby is not alone. He has the warmth of his mother's body or his grandmother's or a friend's. Why would a baby cry?
In the U.S., this would be spoiling the baby. Not at all. This is loving the baby. This is enjoying the baby.
How I wish I had known more of this when my daughter was little.
When my daughter was little, I thought I had to put her down to sleep. I thought it was supposed to be this way. Apologies, Lauren.
And this is a photo of Agnes. She has a three-month old baby who was home with Agnes' mother on the day I took these photos. Agnes' baby is lucky too, always on someone's back, someone happy to have a baby there. How content these babies are. I think babies here grow up to be calm settled people, content, comfortable and secure.