Vivian Rubin

The Things We Carried: A Mother’s Homage

by Colleen Curran
photo by Vivian Rubin

We carried bottles and formula and breast milk kept cold with freezer packs. We carried diapers and wipes and extra sets of clothes, sweaters and sweatshirts. Hats and gloves. Undershirts, socks, onesies rolled up into a ball and tucked into the corner of our bag.

We carried diaper cream and baby aspirin and little bottles with droppers for gas.

We carried strollers and infant carriers and a thousand little baby gadgets that are a lot heavier than they look.

We carried snacks and granola bars, crackers and chips, little fruit packets in pouches. We carried water and juice, pacifiers and biscuits our babies could rub their gums on.

We carried Kleenex but could never find it.

We carried ten to fifteen pounds of baby weight. We carried worries and advice and emergency first aid kits. We carried more fear than we had ever known. Fear of harm, fear of injury, fear of death.

Our bags were heavy. They weighed us down. They made us slow.

One day, we knew, we would be light and carry only ourselves again. Keys in our pockets. Hands free and light as air.

But for now, we carried love, we carried joy, we carried our babies in our arms and on backs and across our chests. We carried them, willingly.

We carried them until there was nothing left to carry and our children run from us, fully clothed, fed, dry, warm and happy.

And we long to carry it all over again.

Colleen Curran is the author of the novel Whores on the Hill (Vintage Original/Random House) which was selected as a best debut by NPR and the editor of the literary anthology Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings (Anchor Books). Her short stories have been published in places like Alaska Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, Hayden’s Ferry Review and right here in Parhelion Literary Magazine. She is a staff writer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where she writes about arts and entertainment. Read more awesome posts from Colleen on her website.