Let’s start with a picture:
I saw this image as I was filling the back of the car with all the gear necessary to take two kids to a campfire (highchair, nursing pillow, picnic blanket, pajamas, diaper bag, beers….)
I was struck by the weight of it—the responsibility of two kids. The car seats they need to keep them safe. The calories we keep in their bodies. Their bodies we carry because they aren’t mobile. The wipes and the diapers and the diaper cream and, for one, the seizure medication and, for one, the calendar of five specialists and three therapists and, for both, the books on how to be their better parents. The hoodies we tote in case of a chill. The boogies we wipe from their eyes. The cries we soothe in the different ways that they need soothing. And on and on.
And I was struck by the cost of that weight. My hunched back, my neck muscles rock-hard from nursing. My irregular showers. My rushed or sometimes non-existent writing time. The dust settling on my meditation cushions. The ten postpartum pounds I carry. The stretch marks and the memories of labor pains and the weakened core muscles. The grumpy mood brought on by the broken-up sleep because Kid A woke up at 3 and then 5 and then 6 and then 7 and Kid B woke up somewhere in the midst, and Kid A wishes to sleep beside a warm body so I must sleep in a way that 1.) does not make any of my limbs go numb and 2.) does not risk suffocation of Kid A and 3.) still allows me to doze into some semblance of a restful state.
This is just the surface, scratched. And I mention the cost and the weight of these two kids because my body felt them poignantly as I loaded the hatchback with still more weight—the diaper bag, the highchair, the nursing pillow, etc….
And I mention the cost and the weight because if I don’t, if I only tell you the reason I snapped the above photo, then I risk being one of those friends you have on social media who goes on and on about the awesomeness of her life even as she masks the underbelly, all streaked with stretch marks. You know the type of friend. Look at us in the Bahamas! Look at us remodeling our kitchen! Look at me looking hot in my bikini/skinny pants/gorilla suit, etc.
After all, this was the image I saw just 5 minutes prior:
But even heavy with fatigue and baby gear and postpartum weight, I pulled out the camera and snapped this photo for one specific reason. Because looking at these two kids I care for, these two kids who will be in my care the rest of their lives, I felt, not stressed or worn down or wondering if I might be off having more fun with a kid-less existence. Instead, I felt rich. With these two people in my backseat, I felt incredibly rich.
Here’s the image again, in a slightly different version. What richness looked like: