Things I Carry

What do I carry with me? A big stuffed black bag, but it’s never enough. I’ve been known to text friends in the vicinity of where I’m going to say “Can you meet me outside the community centre? I forgot my wipes!” Sometimes I forget snacks too, and my son chows down on a dry cracker while looking up at me and saying “But I’m hungry Mama!”

I carry worries with me too. At first I tried to stop myself from worrying, afraid that I would attract negativity in my life. But it proved impossible. “Worry is the work of motherhood” said one of my pregnancy books. And so I embraced it. For a while I thought if I thought about it, it was unlikely to happen. So I tried to worry about every possible thing that might happen, knowing that if I considered it, it would probably never occur. Would Grandma drop P in the bath while I was gone? Would the daycare provider hold his hand tightly when he crossed the street? Would the sitter let M play with the toddler toys that have too many small pieces? I roll over all the possibilities in my mind, almost as if I could just think it, I could prevent it.

Despite all this baggage, I think there are some things I’m good at not carrying. Guilt. If worry is the work of motherhood, then guilt is the cranky colleague – always looking over her shoulder and second-guessing her. Don’t feed the baby that Mum-mum – there’s no nutrition in it! You shouldn’t have let her cry for so long in the back of the car! Your son hits you? You must be doing something wrong to have a kid who hits you! You work? You stay at home?? When I hear that little voice I push it away – I throw it away, along with the used up wet wipes, the soggy diapers, the pieces of paper and pinecones my son collects along the road on the way to the park. And some of the time, I succeed.