I carried you. From an invisible dot to the tiny baby you became, I carried you. I carried you inside me and I carried you in my heart.
And then, there you were – outside of me and into my arms. Then I began to carry not just you, but the enormous weight of responsibility, love and exhaustion. I feared sometimes I might collapse under its heaviness and occasionally, I did. But then I got back up and I carried you all once again.
At first you were so small I could cradle you in one arm, as I jiggled you to sleep or fed you almost constantly, anything to calm your urgent cries. My other arm would grab a drink, scroll through my phone to pass the time or – during ambitious moments – sling the latest spoilt vest at the washing machine in a bid to tidy up.
I held you for hours and hours in those early days. It seemed there was no end to me holding you in my arms. I carried you as you fed, I carried you as you slept – so rare was it for your eyes to remain closed if I put you down.
We spent long, dusky hours together overnight, me imagining everyone but us asleep while your eager sucking became the soundtrack to my 2 AM. It was just you and me – propped against pillows and fighting to stay awake while I held you.
You grew right before me – I only looked away for a moment and you changed – your legs becoming long and lithe, your hair turning fair from dark, your smile changing from fleeting to semi-permanent. And all the while, I carried you.
Gradually and suddenly you became someone I knew – a face I saw myself in, a noise I knew by heart – a shape in my arms so familiar as I carried you through those early months.
But you just wouldn’t stop growing.
You became hungry for more of the world and my arms were not enough, I restricted your view. First you began to look, and then move away from me; and all of a sudden I wasn’t carrying you so much. But any time you needed me – and sometimes when you didn’t – I scooped you up, I carried you.
When I left you, it was never for too long; my light arms and unburdened legs would whip through the streets and I would feel free and happy and also little empty. I enjoyed the time apart yet craved being back together; as when I couldn’t, I’d want nothing more than to carry you.
Some days though, my head and hands would be so full of other stuff that I didn’t want to carry you. Your angry insistence that you took priority over every meal I tried to cook or shopping I needed to carry created temporary standoffs between us and rifts in my patience. Sometimes I would worry about your dependence, my aching back, the future.
But even then, I carried you when I could, because I knew deep down that you had to come first; and also that there was nothing nicer than holding you in my arms and feeling your contented heart beat against mine.
Now, little though you still are – and perhaps always will seem to me – it is like you have been here forever. You are so young but I can’t truly remember a world without you, a time when I didn’t carry you; when we weren’t holding tight to each other.
Although you are still so small in the grand scheme of your big life, I am now conscious of the limited time I have to carry you. I’m aware that someday you won’t want me to pick you up, and I won’t be able to soothe your sadness with a kiss. How will it feel when I can’t be the one to make things alright – when carrying you is not enough?
You have so much growing still to do; and so do I. I know these ties that bind us so tightly will loosen over time and that will be right, natural and possibly – for me – a little painful. But until that time, I’m going to hold you. I will carry you… when you want me to.
You pull my jean leg each day and adorably order me to “Carry you, carry you.”
“Carry me,” I correct, and I smile, secretly enjoying these little muddles that remind me there is still time before you go it alone; before our tiny world is no longer everything to you.
And then dancing around the kitchen with you just now, looking so pure, happy and beautiful; I realise I will always carry you. In moments like this, and also as the years move you out of my arms and our love becomes background, I will still carry you… I wonder if you will feel it.
There are times with you I will remember forever: moments that defined me, memories soaked with love and for those, I will always be grateful.
But of all the tender times, the firsts and the fun days; I think what I will remember most is the feeling of carrying you: in my arms – then, in my heart – always.
Originally featured on Scary Mommy