He found shelter inside the garage and glared back at me with exasperation in his hands and impatience in his eyes. His hair was still dripping from the after-school game of tag. The only thing that stood between scolding me up close was the steady sheets falling from the sky. I don’t know what he wanted in that particular moment. Maybe he discovered the Kindle wasn’t charged (a nasty weeknight mom-trick). Or that we were out of all things snacky. Or maybe his brother poked him or looked at him funny. It’d been five minutes since we’d pulled in the drive, set them free into the house, leaving pupil status behind them.
“Why are you just sitting there?”
It was a combination of reading his lips, half-hearing through the windshield and the rain, and momsense. It was evident he wanted something and my delay in the driver’s seat was hardly providing.
“Because I’m left to carry everything.”
It sounded reasonable in my head. Those lines always do. Once they pass the lips and glide across soundwaves, they lose sensibility. Of course, my delay had little to do with being left to carry three heavy backpacks, a store bag, a pair of shoes, an unnapped — and waterlogged preschooler, a pile of coats, and my computer bag through the downpour.
The driver’s seat delay move has become a (bad?) habit of late. Not ready to face the unpacking, the picking up, the to-dos — all that which comes with walking through the door after eight hours away. Not ready to engage in sibling quarrels, homework sets, dinner decisions, and anything else that lies beyond the door. The car set in park somehow provides a few minutes to escape. Usually catching up on the myriad of emails and texts that crawl up into my smart-space every day between 3:30 and 4:30 when I am entirely unavailable. Wrapping up some loose ends from the day. Or tackling whatever transpires in the eight-minute ride between school and home.
Today it was a couple emails to a couple teachers following an emotional retelling of this day’s version of school life. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get the full scoop from the kid perspective. And then those specific situations fed into other tricky situations. Which reminded me of yet other tough spots still unresolved.
And then the still-buckled, still-unnapped, still-waterlogged preschooler squawked from the back. Oh right. She’s probably ready to go inside, too.
I wondered if it was possible to sit in “delay” long enough for my Knight to ride home on his Honda-horse and rescue me from the “mommommommommommommom,” the exasperated, the brokenhearted, the whatever-was-about-to-happen-next. And then I thought about what I knew of his day. And the weight piled on.
I moved my thoughts to what needed to happen next. The person I needed to text. The important email I was afraid I’d forget to respond to. My homework which loomed somewhere between no-time-for-it and due-Thursday. The empty refrigerator due to the errands I’d run out of time for. The work stuff that wouldn’t wait till tomorrow. The load felt heavier.
“Because I’m left to carry everything.”
It came into focus. It wasn’t so nonsensical after all.
My delay had little to do with the load and everything to do with the load.
Moms are load-bearers. We carry the heap of whatever’s left in the car when the last kid door closes. But we also bear the weight of every emotion, each crisis, the decisions, the what-wills, the why-nows, the what-ifs, the when-wills. Every conversation that is broached. Every topic that is touched. Every need that is raised. Every task that needs time.
Sometimes it can feel like we’re left to carry everything.
I eventually snapped myself out of delay mode and unloaded what was needed:
- I left some in the car for a more opportune (a.k.a. drier) time.
- I unloaded the necessary into the garage in shifts, minimizing the soaked factor.
- I delegated backpacks to the backs they belonged on. Okay, not really. But in retrospect, I should have mommed them back to carry in their own soggy totes.
Some days the load is too big to bear. Eh, probably most days. We all need strategies so we don’t spill with every step.
Some of the load needs to be left behind. Not forever, but for a more opportune time.
Some of the load needs to be managed in shifts, rearranged and wisely strategized.
Some of the load needs to be hefted where it really belongs. It doesn’t all belong on me. Even as Mom. But I’m not looking to strap those emotional loads onto my children. Sure, I want to engage with them. But there is One who invites me to bring my loads and lay them where we can engage in them together. Where the burden is left on the One strong enough to bear it. It’s not my default. It’s not even comfortable.
But in that path, I find peace.
We may feel left to carry everything, but it’s not all ours to carry. Rain or shine.