The Weight of Motherhood

It all feels so heavy. The weight of being a mother; a parent.

My daughter and I were in the bath tub, as we are every night. I scrubbed her little body; her adorable chubby arms. I washed her hair; stuck it up in a shampoo mohawk and we laughed like we always do. I lathered up her feet; we counted each little piggy and she pointed out her knees, elbows and butt. It was the typical routine. We pretended to brush her bath time baby’s hair and teeth. But then, she asked me for the “shoap”. She took the wash cloth I had just used to bathe her and pretended to squirt it with lavender baby wash. She took the wash cloth and scrubbed it against itself; to make all the bubbles. Just like I do. She scrubbed her baby’s body and arms. She asked for some “head” (shampoo). She rubbed her hands together and washed her baby’s hair. Just like I do. She picked her baby up, put her over her shoulder and rocked her back and forth, singing “la la la”. Just like I do.

Then it hit me. The weight. The heavy weight of motherhood. The weight of tiny little eyes watching and learning. The weight of tiny little ears listening and hearing. I carried her for 9 months (41 weeks and 2 days to be exact – because let’s be honest mamas – every day counts at that point).  I carried an extra 30 lbs because she wanted Dairy Queen after dinner most nights. And I remember when they placed a 9 lb 2 oz dream come true in my arms, she felt heavy. But this weight, this load, this pressure I’m hit with can’t be measured in pounds and ounces.

It can be measured in the seconds and minutes I spend rocking her to sleep each night. The time spent holding her, even after her eyelids have lost the battle. Staring at her in awe. In complete disbelief every night that she’s mine. That I made her. I supplied her with life. That she is the face of the tiny little jumping bean that rolled around and did karate in my belly. It can be measured in the tears I cry. The ones I shed the moment I heard her first cry. The ones I cried out of fear; fear that I’ll mess up. That I’ll do things wrong. That I’ll let her down. That I’ll disappoint her. The ones that roll down my cheek when I see her in pain. When she’s sick or sad and I feel powerless; helpless. The ones I shed when she laughs; that deep belly giggle. The one that is so contagious that I do it too. And the tears roll out as drops of pure joy. The ones I shed because I don’t know what else to do sometimes. It can be measured in the hours of sleep I lose at night. The hours spent rocking her back to sleep after a bad dream. The hours spent watching the monitor; waiting to see her chest raise up because she’s been sleeping way too long and way too well. The hours spent laying wide awake worrying. Worrying about how I overreacted when she spilled something all over the couch earlier that day. Worrying about how I’m ever going to protect her from this big bad world. Worrying that I won’t have all the answers.

Some days, this weight is enough to crush me. This weight – the weight of being charged with the responsibility to raise this little girl – has been given to me by God. A weight He intended for me to carry. A weight He intended to be heavy. I can’t help but feel that this weight is strengthening me. Stretching me. Pushing me. That it is not possible to have such a powerful love without such an intense weight. A weight that I will hoist on my back and carry over the tallest of mountains. A weight I will drag with me through the strongest currents in the roughest waters. A weight that will push and pull me in every different direction. On the hardest of days, the weight will feel too much to bear. The load will never get any lighter. But I will get stronger; this I know. And on the happiest of days, those days filled with giggles, tickles, cuddles and gap-teethed smiles, I will gain wheels and pulleys that will help to lighten this weight I carry.

And when the weight gets too heavy to carry another step; I will let it drop me to my knees. And from my knees I will pray. I will pray for the strength and the wisdom I need to bear it. I will pray for patience for the days where she feels so far away. I will pray for presence and a grateful heart for the days that the weight becomes a stepping stool; allowing me to reach new heights as a mommy and woman. I will pray for trust and faith; from the God who this child ultimately belongs to. And I will pray for you – for all the other mommies out there that carry this same weight. For all the other mommies who have a heart as strong as steel; even when it may feel like it could shatter with your next breath. God gave you this weight for a reason – you’re the only one strong enough to carry it.

2 Comments

  1. Lisa Cunningham

    So true Courtney, and your Mother feels the same about you. I’ve always said a mother’s love is so different then their fathers. Not that they don’t love their child, but mother’s hearts are huge. Just remember as this little girl grows up, your love will grow stronger and stronger each passing day. Cherish each passing day, with this little gift that God has given you. Time goes by so fast.

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