The Weight of It All

The weight of a new baby in your arms, sweet, soft, somehow heavier and lighter than you expected all at once, the soft cheek, resting on your breast, the open mouth, the soft sigh, the possibility and potential in their tiny body. I remember the weight of each of them, distinctly different the way they each rested against me. The weight of it all.


The weight on my scale every morning, just a number, a number that my better self swears won’t define me, an arbitrary number that says nothing about my worth or my ability or my capacity for love or kindness. It is a number that my weaker self weeps over, feeling less than, devalued, unworthy of love and at the same time ashamed that I spend any time there, being worried about the space I occupy, the space I take up, doubly ashamed that I might revisit any of this bullshit on my own children. The weight of it all.

The weight of a life changing diagnosis. The day they tell you everything is different now, that the day to day worries of skinned knees and fractured wrists have shifted to ketones, DKA, seizures, and worse. The weight of a lifetime, hopefully well past my own, dependent on the whims of insurance, pharmaceutical companies, and our fucked up government’s thoughts on those things sits on my chest like an elephant every time I slow down enough to think. I rarely slow down these days. The idea that her ability to access the tiny bottles of clear liquid, the smell of which has been imprinted on my brain since the first time I dropped a three hundred dollar bottle on the kitchen floor, shattering it, two weeks after we first came home from the hospital, is the only thing that keeps her alive, and that that access will someday be out of my control, that sneaks up on me sometimes and hits me like a ton of bricks. The weight of your six year old in your arms recovering from a tough day at school, a boy teased her, a ball hit her in the face, tears streaming down her face, while you wonder, is this normal life is tough shit or is this medically relevant? Should I hold her and tell her everything is going to be ok, or should I poke her with a needle, make her bleed and take her to the doctor? This is, of course an over simplification, but most things are. The weight of it all.

The weight of small children in a big city. We have four children, in a city where most of my peers have two, in a city that is hard to stay in, unless you have a reason. This city often feels hostile to children. I am overly cautious about where I take them and when I take them there, worried about way the noise, the mess, the joyous chaos that they bring will be unwelcome. Someone shushed my three year old at a public park because he was sad that his bike was stolen yesterday. The city is often a sharp contrast to the soft place I know my children need. The worry is weight I realize I am carrying only when I find myself free of it: in the home of a friend who understands the noise, in the presence of people who embrace the chaos. The weight of it all.

The weight of our family. Jim and I choose this, this family, these people. We both came from something different and I have had a hard time articulating why I have known with such certainty that this was our path. There is a gravitational pull to our clump of humanity. It somehow feels bigger than us, exponentially. A lifetime ago, in a classroom I have long since misremembered, a generic professor of something drew a rough diagram on a white board, outlining how more complex relationship structures provided strength or scaffolding for all of the individual relationships. A part of that must have stuck with me. They have each other in a way I can't fully explain. I know they won’t all always come home for the holidays, but it feels like someone always will. When they feel they can’t come to us, I am reassured that they can always go to each other, that there will always be a way home. It comforts me to know that they have each other, less scary than their just having me, loving and flawed and unpredictable me. The weight is multiplied, but the weight is shared. The weight of it all.