I remember facing the dressing room mirror, less than a week after my daughter was born, my eyes brimming with tears at the sight of my reflection.
I was in need of summer apparel for a body I no longer recognized.
Much to my surprise, I still looked pregnant. And quite unexpectedly, I was unable to fit into clothing that was four, even five sizes up from my pre-pregnancy size.
In that moment, and in many moments after, I felt desperate to reclaim my body from years prior. Desperate to lose the weight.
Little did I know, that wasn't actually possible.
Sure, physically I could lose some weight. And eventually I did.
But the weight of motherhood? Well, that never goes away.
No, I wasn't expecting the physical weight of carrying a baby to linger the way it did. But more than that, I wasn't prepared for the ever-present emotional and spiritual weight.
I didn't realize I would carry my child with me even when we were apart. That her presence would always accompany me and the load of responsibility would never lift, even when she was in the care of another perfectly capable human being.
I didn't know that every decision I'd make as her mother would carry a weight far heavier than what any scale could register. Because although each decision is certainly not THAT important, there are just so many of them that the weight of each one, big or small, accumulates and settles onto my shoulders and into my brain.
At all times, I wonder if I'm doing anything right. Anything at all.
My brain is heavy with an endless to-do list. Lunches to pack. Clothes to wash. Costumes to assemble. Homework to review. Playdates to schedule. Parties to plan. Library books to return. Cuts to bandage. Stains to remove. Floors to sweep from another snack-time gone awry. Not to mention the endless responsibility of teaching a child love, kindness, manners, faith, and how to be a decent human.
Motherhood is heavy with the pressure to record each laugh, each tear, each hug. To memorize the precious words that flow from my child's mouth in all of her innocence. The ones that at once make my heart both heavy and weightless.
The days and nights are heavy with prayer. For safety, protection – hers and mine. That she might have a kind heart and hands that serve, and that I might somehow teach her those things. That I might be granted wisdom, patience, forgiveness, redemption. And that she might be granted the same.
With each passing day, the weight of motherhood becomes heavier as the stakes get higher. I've had to let go of that baby as I've watched her become a child. And soon I'll let go of my child as she becomes a teenager and then an adult. All I'm doing is preparing to send her away one day when she will be responsible for navigating this ever-changing world on her own. And I worry that I'm not doing a good job. I worry that she'll fall and I won't be able to pick her back up.
You see, motherhood is heavy, the weight of it impossible to lose.
But what a gift it is. And lucky for me, I'm still carrying it.