My sons love Fla-Vor-Ice popsicles – the ones that come in plastic wrappers in liquid form and must be frozen at home. In order to keep them stocked in our freezer, I buy numerous small boxes of 16 at the grocery store and order large boxes of 100 from Amazon. Given the time delay between placing the popsicles in the freezer and them being ready to eat, combined with the speed with which my boys eat them, we try to keep a lot of them both in the freezer and in the pantry. The other day, seven-year-old Alex informed me that there were no popsicles ready to eat and asked me to put a box in the freezer. I said, “can’t you do it?” intending for him to get one of the smaller boxes. However, he only saw the larger box of 100. He said, “It weighs too much. You’re a mom. It’s not heavy for you,” and went on his way.
His statement stopped me cold though because being a mom can be heavy, so very heavy. The heavy nature of motherhood comes in many forms. From the start, a mom’s body grows heavier during pregnancy and nursing. Hopefully, the weight comes off, but there’s no guarantee. Not to mention how heavy those pumpkin seats are to carry once the baby gains a little weight. Carrying a toddler on a hip or having kids climb on top of us all of the time is physically heavy. And the exhaustion can be crushing.
But the heaviness does not stop there. The amount of worry can be oppressive: are we financially secure; is my child safe; do they have good or questionable friends; do they have any friends at all; are they learning in school; are we properly helping with their specific needs; are they too busy; are they too idle; are they healthy; are they making sound decisions? The list of concerns goes on and on and can be overwhelming. I worry about whether they’ve been exposed to a variety of activities because I want to help them find their passions. How do I foster their dreams and celebrate their spirited natures while teaching them the realities of the world that can be unfair and unjust?
Then there’s a personal piece of heaviness for moms. We compare ourselves to other mothers who seem to have it all together from our point of view. Personally, I’m serious by nature, so I envy moms who are more carefree and spontaneous. Look how fun they are when I’m not, I think. And what about the career questions. I’ve worked full-time, part-time, and stayed home with children. I’ve felt guilt during each and every stage. Anxiety, depression, and anger are real and can debilitate us. Becoming content and authentic is harder than I thought it would be before I became a mom. Fear of failure in the realm of motherhood is intense. I’ve grieved over two miscarriages, so I also feel for those who wish to be mothers who’ve never had the opportunity or who’ve experienced loss.
The heaviness of heart may be the most difficult to bear and seems to be only a heartbeat away in any given circumstance. When our children hurt, we hurt. Sometimes when they cry in pain (physical or emotional), we cry too. We ache for them and pray for them. The concerns may change as the child grows, but they do not vanish. Being a mom is hard. So is being a person who acts as a mom – the teachers and caregivers come to mind.
But for all the pain and worry, our hearts can also be heavy with positive emotions too. The love for our children can make our hearts feel as though they will burst. The sense of pride in our children swells in our chests. The relief that the kids are okay feels like a flood when we realize what could’ve been in certain situations.
The burden of motherhood is sweet and sour; fulfilling and draining; magical and ordinary. But the feelings are real and honest and common. We share the same emotions even though we loathe to share those emotions with one another. Instead of feeling lonely or isolating ourselves, we should rest in the knowledge that all mothers feel a range of emotions – all normal, all understandable, all born out of the love we have for our children. Motherhood can be heavy. But we are moms, we can handle it.