At the checkout counter, a sticker read “For your convenience, leave heavy goods in cart.” I stood with 34 pounds of dead-weight child asleep across my chest and shoulder, and groped with one free hand for the contents of my cart. A man in front of me just stared, but did not offer any relief from either task at hand.
“Huh!” I said pointing, “Leave heavy goods in cart.” I had wondered if I could lay my son down on the wire gridded floor of the grocery cart to make this shopping errand easier, but that just seemed cruel, so I let my back strain beneath the pressure of his sleeping body. He is four. Days like this won’t last that much longer. The clerk was patient as I rifled one-handed through my purse for the requisite grocery savings card and debit card, and then sent a helper to load my trunk in the parking lot.
We had places to be, things to do, obligations to meet. But the sweetest part of my day was taking just a second to breathe the breath of my son as his little face nestled into my neck, and feel all the trust and security that he had in my touch and ability to carry him. Today was his first day of preschool. Next year, he will be in kindergarten, and far too tall for me to easily carry or cradle anymore. This evening and early this morning, he bundled himself between my knees and tucked his head under my chin, and then he giggled. This is my last child, my last baby, and the last link I have to young motherhood. I think I can bear his burden.