Give it to Mom… she’ll carry it.

Moms are carriers.  Plain and simple.  I suppose it was my restricted carrying the past month due to a shoulder injury that has me thinking along these lines.  For nine months, we carry in our expanding belly an expectation of something we can’t possible begin to understand until we’re able to hold it in our arms for the first time and then we don’t want to let go.  We carry babies until they’re toddlers and when they discover their independence and no longer want to be carried, we carry their things.  We carry toys that should have been left at home in the first place and mutter  “I told you sos” under our breath, while more unwanted “had to bring it” things are piled onto our already full arms.  When my middle child, Grant, was born, he spent the first 4 months of his life unhappy unless he was being carried.  The words, “Can you carry Grant?” were heard so often during those first 4 months that Grant’s other name became “Cary” Grant, quite by default.  Anyone slightly younger than me had no idea why we  found his name to be so clever.  And carry him, I/we did…. in a front pack, on a hip, over a shoulder or in the crook of an arm.  That same baby, many years later, while playing competitive baseball in middle school, had a coach who would tell the team as they were gathering up the equipment post game,

“Catchers don’t carry.”

I loved that sliver of recognition that the catcher would get for having spent the past few hours in a squatted position looking through a hot mask.  He should get a pass.  In fact, more than once I felt like the team should not only carry the equipment, but the catcher as well.  A few times, when I’ve been in a situation with Grant when I didn’t feel like I should have to carry something,  we’ve locked glances and he’ll take the words right out of my mouth before I even have a chance to utter them.

“Catchers don’t carry.”

He gets it.  My child who wanted to be carried for a solid 4 months can appreciate that sometimes the person who’s expected to shoulder the heavy load, simply needs a break.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if just once a rule of “Moms don’t carry” would be thrown out there?  (and not just on Mother’s Day…)  Would there be piles of half eaten bags of popcorn, still sealed water bottles, souvenir caps and worthless trinkets piled up at the exit of every amusement park because there wouldn’t be a mom to schlep them to the car?  Would stuffed animals, shoes that fell off of tiny feet and were easier to carry rather than put back on again, and the stray jacket be left behind on empty chairs in restaurants?   Or more likely, would the moms swoop in in exasperation and like any good pack animal,  load up the gear with a sigh and a “never mind” and continue on?  Maybe we do it because it’s important to us.  Maybe we know that a handful of stale popcorn will save the day 20 minutes into a ride home with grumpy and tired kids.  Maybe we know that we’ll be the ones that will suffer the consequences if all of our options are left behind in piles when exiting.

When my 3rd child, Emery, was born, the kids outnumbered  the arms, which I hadn’t really considered until my maiden voyage outside of the house with all three in tow.  My sister, Robin, said it reminded her of the guy that was on the Ed Sullivan show who would balance 3 plates in the air with two long sticks.  With the plates outnumbering the sticks holding them up, there was always a vulnerable one that had you holding your breath.  I think that same guy showed up every week on the show, and still, we watched with bated breath (entertainment was simple, times were different…).  I would think about that man on the Ed Sullivan stage a lot while I juggled 3 kids and their stuff – maintaining the balance of keeping all 3 “plates” in the air at once, always with an eye out for the vulnerable one.   I know I speak for other moms when I say that there was a little bit of “bring it on… I’ve got this” going on, maybe because there was an odd desire to see how much I actually could do or carry or manage before the delicately stacked tower would tumble.  It was always far more than I had predicted, by the way…

When kids had big enough arms to hold their own stuff, the rule was always “If you want to bring it, you carry it.”  The unwritten rule that seemed to go along with that, or at least as far as the kids were concerned, was, “Bring it.  Mom will end up carrying it.”  And sadly, she did.  Rules regarding carrying seemed to be regarded as mere suggestions, and I take total blame for that one.

All of the carrying becomes normal and any mother of young children will tell you that when their arms aren’t overflowing with babies, car seats, strollers or stuffed lovies, something feels wrong… almost like you have forgotten to put your second shoe on.  I marvel now at the strength and balance I had when I was able to remove and open a heavy double stroller from the back of the car with one hand,  while holding a crying baby and trying to keep a physical touch on his rambunctious older brother with any part of my body that was available.  Never again will I have the strong, chiseled arms I had then that sadly went unnoticed, simply because they were a side effect, not a goal, and something that I had no time to give importance to.  Even lifting weights 3 times a week with a personal trainer not that long ago couldn’t bring them back to their glory days. Funny how things work.

As much as I juggled, schlepped and complained, the day came when I realized that my arms were swinging back and forth as I walked…back and forth and strangely empty.  It felt surprisingly freeing, yet not quite normal and with that lingering sense of having forgotten something. Holding my kids and their belongings gave me a sense of control and security and comfort as all I had to do was look down and it would all be right there – right there in my tired, but contently filled arms.  When the babies, the toddlers, the crying children and the armloads of stuff no longer needed to be carried was when the real heavy lifting began.  This was the part that no one told me about.  This was the part that even the well-toned and strong arms wouldn’t be able to help me with.  This was the part when my arms set down the physical loads and my heart stepped in to carry the load.

In our ever-expanding hearts, we hold the hopes, the tears, the joys, the fears, the desires and every memory, both the good ones and the not so good ones.  Unlike our limited arms, our hearts are limitless and seem to expand with ease in order to make room for more memories, more touching moments, more feelings that you want to hold close.  I’ve come to realize, after so many times of saying goodbye to my children, to honor, respect and hold tight to what I no longer can carry in my  arms, but now hold in my heart and although it’s not a load that can be felt physically, its presence is as present as my breath, my pulse, my being.

I’ve been reminded twice in the past month, while carrying the boxed belongings of 2 of my kids and their spouses, that the carrying doesn’t ever truly end, it just changes.   Although most of the load carried since my children reached adulthood, has not been carried in cardboard boxes, but rather,  in my heart, there are still times that I get to re-flex my carrying muscles and honestly, it feels nostalgically wonderful.  But kids,  6 times in 3 years is enough!  Any more than that, and I’ll have to enforce my “catchers don’t carry” rule (which you’ll wisely read as “don’t worry, she’ll still help us move our stuff”…).  You know me well.  Of course I will.

Carrying all of them… in my heart…




Dust, noise, a swimming pool sized trench in my yard and PATIENCE.

My front yard has become a construction zone and I should really wear a hard hat when going to my car, which as of yesterday, and until further notice, is parked several houses down the street from my house.  My driveway is no longer accessible and with that, I lost my garage.  Mail delivery is iffy and my overly full recycle bin was finally returned to my garage in the same position that I hauled it out in as I got tired of waiting for it to be emptied.  I can hardly blame either the mail truck or the recycle truck for not making their way down my street.  It takes a brave soul.  This is what happens to homeowners when their old neighborhood gets a below the surface facelift and it’s out with the old pipes and in with the new.  That alone, is helping me stay positive about the whole mess of a situation, but when trying to get to my house yesterday and having to quickly change from drive to reverse because a fire truck was backing down the street just feet in front of me, my  positivity started to wane.

I asked the fireman, who was headed to my car, what was going on and was everyone OK and am I really going to have to back down the street to the busy road I just turned off of?

“A major gas line was broken a block from here… down there on the corner… sure does take patience to live on this street these days, huh?  And no, we’ll move the truck so you can get by.”

Thank you, fireman.  Yes, it does and I sure did appreciate the acknowledgement of that.

As I was making my way through the tight squeeze around the fire truck,  I realized that “a block from here and down there on the corner” was, of course, my house.  Sometimes all you can do is shake your head, be grateful that the firetruck was called and leave candle lighting on my porch for another time.  I’m still scared (although they said it was fixed and I couldn’t smell gas).  The whole gas line breakage has resulted in a hole the size of a swimming pool in the front corner of my yard.  I’m not even sure it could still be called a hole.  A trench, perhaps?  Whatever it is, there’s a deep end that could certainly support a high dive as it was a few feet deeper than any of the men working in it – my estimates from my kitchen window said 10 feet and once all the workers had left and the coast was clear, I stood on the edge of the pit and without scaling my way down, 10 feet deep seemed about right.

It’s just not as inviting as say a wreath or a potted plant would be…(that would be my front yard…)


THIS is the corner of my yard…


No worries… there’s a plastic net fence around it for safety.  This would be a pretty ugly fall in the dark of night…

Patience.  I’m trying to find it, keep it, put it into action.

The initial work involved replacing the 75 year old gas lines to my house, which meant there was a pretty steady stream of workmen traipsing through my house and into my basement to do the work, have their work checked, and light my hot water heater, followed by a few rounds of shutting the gas off and relighting the heater.  They were in my house often enough that I felt like I should at least offer them a cup of coffee or maybe a piece of toast.   Only thoughts.  The good news is that the work has totally moved away from the inside of my house so the workers are no longer in and out,  but the bad news is that my yard seems to be the headquarters and where all of the really big machinery seems to be hanging out.

I know having to back up those big huge machines to the nearest side street so that anyone who lives in this chaos zone can make their way to their houses has got to be frustrating for the workers and has me being a whole lot more thoughtful about how many times I leave my house, knowing that I’ll have to weave my way through the mess to get home.  Three weeks ago I was making eye contact, followed by a quick nod and a smile.  I figured it was the least I could do to offer my encouragement for no doubt a difficult job.  I quit that last Monday when at 7 a.m. my house was shaking so hard from the concrete smashing that was going on in front of my house,  that I was sure photos were going to start falling off the walls.  That, along with the noise and the dust that has enveloped my house and has left all horizontal surfaces in my house coated so thick that you could write your name on it,  has my smile waning a bit.  Just as well to keep eye contact out of it.  I don’t want to be “that” person who is in continual complaining mode but given what my front yard looks like, I truly feel like I’m taking one for the team here and feel totally justified.  Still, best to just keep on moving and keep my facial expressions out of it.

Most people have friend’s cars parked in front of their house… not me!  I’ve got KOMAT’SU parked in front of my house!


The pipes have to be stored somewhere while digging the trenches where they’ll eventually be… my side yard seemed to be the best choice…


Just random stuff in my yard…

Throughout this whole process, I do have to think of how much worse it could be.  My neighbor has a 9 month-old baby, who probably hasn’t had a decent daytime nap for 3 weeks (the noise is a constant).  Then there’s the danger element… if ANY of my kids were of “that” age, it would sure be hard to keep them out of that enticing canyon that seems to be growing in my front yard, let alone any curious pets.  For that, I’m grateful, as the flimsy plastic fence hardly acts as a barrier.

Every time I see this, I want to steal it.  I’m not sure why.

I suppose the clincher to all of this should be that a short 3 months ago, I had  my old and very crumbling driveway replaced with a brand sparkling new one, something that I’ve put off since I moved to this house 4 years ago because driveways are not cheap, nor a fun way to spend your money.  It was removed to the first joint this morning, as was everyone else’s on my side of the street.  I couldn’t watch.  I’ve been assured multiple times (because that’s how often I’ve asked) that the section will be replaced with a driveway of the same or better quality.  For now, I’m believing them until I see otherwise.  It’s keeping me sane and a whole lot calmer than I could be given the situation.

Patience.  Inhale.  Exhale. (being mindful on the inhale as I live in a cloud of dust right now…).  This will end up good and I truly believe that.  Besides, who gets to actually see what lives 8 or 9 feet under their street?  There’s a whole other world under there!  That’s a start…