At one time, I might have thought it impossible to carry what I do.
Just this morning, my body lugged two shoulder bags, an unattached baby carrier, a bag of trash, a cup of (cold) coffee, keys and my 3-month-old baby. Granted, my son was in a precarious position within my arms, but we managed just fine.
Earlier in the day, I had a heavy car seat in one hand, two bags in the other and a spider plant in a painted terra cotta pot -- an early Mother's Day gift from my Kindergartener -- balanced on top. In the meantime, I was doing my best to keep up with my preschooler, or rather, his Spiderman alter ego.
And it got me thinking: I am a Sherpa.
I've been known to carry a whole week's worth of groceries in my arms in one trip, so that my children are not left alone for too long.
And when I need to lift my 3-year-old onto one hip while wearing my baby on front and pushing a stroller or holding my eldest's hand, I do it.
You might say that motherhood has made me strong. And, I would agree. But it's not my arm muscles that show this strength.
I carry so much more inside.
I carry the weight of knowing that, one day, disillusionment will fall upon my daughter when she realizes that the Tooth Fairy isn't real -- and that she won't get real wings under her pillow so that she, too, may fly.
And I know that one day, she will put her play wings away and instead stand in front of the mirror, judging her beautiful body because other people tell her that she should. And she will likely believe them.
I carry their joys and their fears and all of those seemingly small moments -- like when my son ran off to play train on the bleachers rather than kick the soccer ball, no matter how we tried to entice him otherwise. Or when I kissed my daughter goodbye on her first day of camp and watched her -- with blonde pigtails sprouting from her head like fireworks -- bravely hold it together. And my heart ached and swelled with pride at the same time.
Some day, my children will experience the kind of sorrow that rocks them to the core and -- while I hope to hold and love them through it -- I will carry that sorrow with me, too, for as long as it lives within them.
I carry memories of their firsts -- and some of their lasts -- and so much in between that when I sort through their old clothes I am often overcome with emotion.
I think of how my children will never be that age again. And I miss them -- and the sweetness of that one fleeting chapter of their lives.
I carry all of this and the dreams that I hold for them: Dreams of a life full of compassion and gratitude; of doing what they love; of cultivating a strong sense of who they are and a deep appreciation of the community who holds them.
I carry it with me, as I hold their hands and travel alongside of them.
And so, I do believe that I am a Sherpa. And, above all else, I carry love.