My ears throb. My throat aches. My head swims. A sinus and ear infection has rendered momma weak. I flop onto the couch. Dressed in a t-shirt, my husband’s mesh shorts, and an oversize lavender fleece robe, I am a picture of motherly frump. I feel tired. And while my sweet husband cooks a hearty breakfast and brings me a hot cup of coffee (fixed just how I like it), I can’t help but pout a little. I have so much to get done this weekend. Laundry, oh, the laundry. And mopping and scrubbing and well, more laundry. And there are fun things, too, like a friend’s bachelorette party.
But right now, I just sit. Head leaned back into our soft, paisley-pattern couch, legs relaxed, arms hanging like loose vines at my side. Curious George entertains on the TV, his antics and cast of characters a fixture in our house. “Momma, I cuddle?,” comes out of my toddler’s mouth more like a command than a question, and she hoists one leg up on the couch and snuggles in close under one arm. Her Santa monkey pink fleece jammies are a bit too small, and slightly inhibit her motion. They’re a holdover from the cold winter months that we had to break out again during this early spring chill.
“I cuddle, I cuddle,” my preschooler mumbles in her baby talk way, a frequent occurrence now that she’s uncertain about fulfilling her big kid role. And under my left arm she goes. They squirm and wiggle and shift their weight until…they’re both on my lap. Sisters leaning into each other, and leaning back on their momma. Wrapped up in my old fleece robe, they are warm, they are safe. And for a moment, just one moment, they are still. All of their weight sinks into me, and our breath aligns in one smooth exhale, and inhale. 72 pounds. The weight of my children.
And here, tucked tight in an embrace in the middle of our couch, in the middle of our living room, in the middle of a wheat field, in the middle of the country, I am centered. Motherhood is exhausting and demanding and exhilarating, and from the weight of pregnancy to the weight of responsibility…heavy. And while some can carry many things in addition to their children, at some point, we all have to lay something, or many things, down. Dreams. Careers. Adventures. Rest. Silence. We put these things aside, and shoulder the weight of a mighty blessing.
Soon enough, my children began to squirm, and then, disperse. But not before I was able to soak it all in, burying my nose and taking deep breaths from each of their heads, the scent of sleep and sweat still in their early-morning tousled hair. Cheeks were kissed and all was right in the world. The full weight of my children sunk deep into my memory, my bones. Their bodies were heavy, but my heart was light. 72 pounds, and I am honored to carry this load.