As I carried my big boy around Costco and pushed the empty cart, I mentally prepared myself for somebody to make a comment about him being too big for me to carry around. Because sadly, it’s happened many times before. I awkwardly reached for a pineapple and some mangoes and then I felt his weight change. He got heavier. I knew he had fallen asleep but I couldn’t see his face. I started to notice people kindly waiting for me to push my shopping cart past or smiling as they saw my fast-asleep long-legged four year old boy.
On a Monday, like today, I might respond to someone’s unsolicited comment by saying, “he’s been missing me at work all weekend and this is how I know it…he asked for me to hold him.” I know that I don’t need to provide an explanation to anybody, much less a complete stranger, of why I carry my child who is no longer a baby, who has working legs. I carry him most Tuesday through Fridays, too. I carry him because he politely asks me (most times) in the sweetest voice, “Mama, could you hold me?” He used to demand, “hold you, me.” I carry him because today, I’m strong enough to carry him. I carry him because I love him and he loves me. Because I love to hold him and he loves for me to hold him. I carry him because I held several babies and toddlers at work this weekend and it made me miss my own kids that aren’t babies or toddlers anymore. Those are a few of the reasons why I do it.
And if you truly wanted an ear full, I would tell you that I believe that too many parents want their kids to grow up. Too fast. They want them to do too much before they’re ready or big enough, physically or emotionally. I would tell you that growing up has it’s limited perks and that once you leave childhood, early or later, it’s hard to go back. And it’s hard to make up for lost time as a parent. Practically impossible. I would tell you that I will never regret holding my kids longer or carrying them asleep on my shoulder, as I awkwardly shop for groceries. Honestly, there’s a pretty selfish reason too. I don’t think they will ask me to carry them much longer. It feels pretty good to be important, needed and loved on by these incredibly beautiful children. And I don’t worry that my teenage sons will ask to be held so they can take a nap on my shoulder on a future Costco run. I do worry that they may be lifting more and more food into my cart. That they will help unload.
When I pushed my cart to the checkout line, a woman behind me saw me hold my big sleeping child wrapped around my hips the best that I could manage him while unloading my groceries. She thoughtfully asked me how she could help me. I nearly cried when she said, “I remember those days.” Because it’s Monday and I saw the look in her eyes. And she didn’t tell me he was to big to carry around. She got it. She understood. And that meant the world to me, especially on a Monday.