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On Mother’s Day, it all adds up

Another Mother’s Day column from the past…



May 13, 2006

Weighty concerns easily forgotten on Mother’s Day

Cheryl-Anne Millsap
The Spokesman-Review
 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first Mother’s Day or your 21st; you’ve probably already learned one very important lesson: Mothering is heavy-duty stuff. It’s definitely not for lightweights.

In fact, one of the hardest adjustments you have to make to a new baby, to every new baby, is dealing with the weight gain.

I don’t mean the extra pounds that creep up on you during pregnancy – the combined weight of baby, water and nine months of indulging in milkshakes, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and grilled cheese sandwiches. It isn’t uncomfortable swollen ankles that spill out over the tops of your shoes, or tender breasts.

It isn’t the stubborn little roll of fat around your middle that won’t go away. The spare tire that resists dieting, Pilates, Yoga and everything else you throw at it.

It isn’t the heavy diaper bag, packed with everything you could possibly – but probably won’t – need to care for the baby, or the backbreaking labor of tending to a family.

That’s the easy stuff.

What hits you hardest, what weighs you down and takes the longest time to adjust to, is the responsibility that lands on you once the baby arrives. That is forever.

I’m talking about the chest-crushing pressure to be a good mother and raise a healthy, well-rounded child; to leave behind a legacy of love and kindness; to make the right decisions and do the right thing. The oppressive worry about a child’s future; their success at school; their success in life.

For some, it’s the baggage from your own childhood, a burden you may not have even realized you were carrying, that has to be shifted before you can shoulder the new load.

And then there are all those expectations.

Raising a child is a weighty matter.

When you think about it, like the stones that filled the hold of sailing ships, the children we love and care for are the ballast that keeps us from tipping in the squalls or slipping under the waves. They weigh us down and balance us. They keep us from drifting away and they keep us afloat.

Children anchor us.

So tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

That means, if I’m lucky, the wicker tray, the tray that comes out only on special occasions, the one with a pocket on the side for a magazine or the newspaper and a special place for a glass of juice or a vase of fresh flowers, will be carried upstairs and placed on the bed beside me.

On it will be hot coffee, crisp bacon, scrambled eggs and maybe French toast. Or waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.

Queen for a day, I’ll lean back against my pillows and enjoy the luxury of breakfast in bed, and I won’t be counting calories. Why should I?

I’ve got children. That means I’ve put on a lot of weight over the last few years.

Tomorrow is my day to celebrate.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


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Cheryl-Anne Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement. Cheryl-Anne is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. She is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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