Have your arms ever cried out for relief from carrying your child?
We recently attended a friend's son's birthday party. During our time there, in a conversation that the mother of the boy was having with my husband (they used to be coworkers), I overheard her saying that while she was still able to lift the 1.5 year old, she could no longer pick her 3-year-old up.
As my husband shared this conversation with me later that evening, I learned that she had undergone back surgery recently and was no longer allowed to pick her older son up.
I felt sad. I am not sure how she felt about this, but having personally nursed a bad back for as long as I can remember, a pain that has only worsened since having kids, I imagine that I might have to undergo back surgery myself one day even though I really pray and hope that it won't get to that.
More importantly, what I really felt sad about was wondering about the unlikely but real possibility of never being able to pick up my kids.
Now I am not going to lie to you and say I ALWAYS love doing this. There have been times when I was extremely tired myself, was supremely pregnant to ever want to lift anybody other than myself, or just fed up of (what I saw as) my toddler's whining, complaining, and refusal at home to climb stairs even as I was carrying his baby sister in a car seat and 2 heavy bags of groceries. However, even in these moments I HAVE picked my child up after setting the baby in a safe place and laying the bags of groceries on the kitchen floor.
If my little boy asks me to carry him, I ALWAYS comply because I find great joy in doing this. The only times I may refuse is when I need him to walk for exercise (e.g., if we've been in the car for too long or he's been sitting in a stroller for longer than I would like him to be) but all other times, if he asks for it, he gets it.
Why? Because, time. There will be a time very soon when he will no longer ask to be held or picked up like that. As his personhood emerges stronger, more assertive, and confident in himself; as he gets taller, leaner, older, and more independent; as he becomes more socialized into the ways of the kid world around him; and as he simply becomes too heavy for me to physically pick him up, I know I will miss this physical manifestation of affection immensely.
His gentle hands locked in hugging my neck, the firm fold of my arms under his little tush, my lips perfectly positioned by his cushiony cheeks to tickle him with kisses...it is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Holding and hugging your child close to your heart with arms enveloping each other, is a feeling perhaps second only to having one's child resting her head on your chest listening to your heartbeat as you snuggle inside her hair, kissing it tenderly.
That is why, I will almost NEVER turn down the opportunity to pick up my child and hold him, no matter how tired I am or how exhausted my arms are or how much my poor back is begging for relief. It is my pleasure and my privilege to be those arms for my child, to provide him the comfort and support that only they can assure him, to be a mother in one of the most tangible ways I know, and to bask in the warmth of that beautiful moment thanking the Universe for having given me this priced moment that I have been so fortunately blessed with.
Because one day I'll WANT to pick him and hug him close to my heart but he'll want to have nothing to do with that.
Because if I don't do it today, when that day comes, I will terribly miss not having picked up and held my child more when I had the chance to do so.
Because when that day DOES come, I want to be able to feel okay about it and accept it as a natural developmental milestone and just let it happen.
This post was originally published on the author’s blog at The PhD Mama.