Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How many arms do you have?

"Are you sure you don't need a bag?"

The man at the Whole Foods checkout counter looked at me with confusion.  Clearly, he thought I needed a bag to carry out all my grocery items this morning.  I had two cans of pumpkin puree (why not make another chocolate chip pumpkin loaf today?!), a large container of baby spinach, a birthday card, a four-pack of yogurt, two cucumbers, a dozen eggs and a gallon of whole milk.  Oh, and a non-fat chai latte, too.

But I have an aversion to using disposable bags, even paper ones, whenever possible.  (I do live in Portland, after all!)  And I was too lazy to walk back to my car and get my reusable bags.  So I loaded up my arms with all my goodies, grabbed the milk with one free hand and my latte with the other.  As I walked to my car, I was again thankful for my minivan's keyless entry so I didn't have to dig through my purse for keys.  I only needed one finger to pull open the door.  (And, yes, I do drive a minivan. I had to sell my Subaru wagon to become a minivan-driving-soccer-mom and have never looked back...thanks to keyless entry and the DVD entertainment system.  Don't judge.)

After driving home and putting things away, I finished (yet another) load of laundry.  While carrying the clothes hamper three flights upstairs from the basement laundry room to my third floor bedroom, I also picked up three stuffed animals, two discarded pairs of footed pajamas, a baby blanket and a pair of boots.  I deposited everything in the various rooms where it all belonged and then began the process in reverse -- bringing towels and linens to the basement and picking up things along the way.

I'm not sure if it is a mom trait or a female-only trait but sometimes I feel like I have more arms than my husband.  Or maybe than all men.  I remember walking up the stairs of my house, carrying my almost 2 year-old on my right hip and carrying a 4 month-old in my left arm while she was breastfeeding.  I'm pretty sure my husband can't do that.  (No offense, honey!)

I got to thinking this morning about the things we carry.

We carry groceries.
We carry laundry.  Never-ending loads of laundry.
We carry kids.  Both before and after birth.
We carry backpacks and soccer bags and dance costumes and school lunches.
We carry briefcases and work laptops.
We carry endless plates of food to/from the table and in/out of the dishwasher.
We carry donation items to Goodwill and other charities.
We carry cooked meals to our friends and neighbors when they are in need of some extra help.
We carry flowers to our own moms and Mother's Day and to our kids' teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day.


We carry our husbands/partners when they are going through difficult times at work.
We carry our parents when they are too old to care for themselves.
We carry our girlfriends when they are going through tough times in their lives.
We carry the fear that something will happen to our kids.
We carry ourselves across the finish lines of marathons or to the gym to squeeze in a workout.
We carry the guilt that we are never doing enough -- as a mom, as an employee, as a wife, as a neighbor, as a runner/cyclist/exercise-enthusiast or as a homemaker.  

I oftentimes struggle with being a stay-at-home mom.  I lose my patience almost daily with my toddlers. I crave the social camaraderie that comes with working in an office.  I miss feeling like I'm using my brain and education to their full potential.  I fear that I am going to fail.  I feel that I am lacking an identity.

And then I start thinking about all the things that I carry on a daily basis.  I try to imagine my family without me in it.  And it makes me feel important and necessary once again...and proud of my little arms.  (It also makes me think I must have more than two of them!)

The most important things I'll ever carry...

Of course, none of this would be possible without my family and friends carrying me when I need it.

And special thanks to this one...

What do you carry in your life?  Do you struggle with your identity?

I really was going to post today about the fact that my foot injury -- the one that kept me from running all summer long -- seems to be back again.  But talking about it might make it a reality.  So I'll just continue to be in denial for a little longer and hope for the best.  In the meantime, I had a great track workout last Friday (6 x 800 in the middle of a six mile run), an easy 7 on Saturday and a hard 10 mile progression run early Monday morning.  I was just starting to feel like I'm getting back in shape ready to kick-off Boston training and now I'm not sure how my foot is going to handle the increase in mileage and effort...

Happy Halloween!!!

- Kristen


  1. I love this post! Those photos are gorgeous.

    You carry a lot! As women, I think we generally carry the weight of the family. We often feel responsible for everything. That can get quite heavy. I'm not there yet, but I can imagine it would be exhausting. Luckily, it sounds like you have a wonderful husband who also carries some of the weight.

    1. Yes, Kate, I think you're right that it is a woman thing to try to do it all and feel responsible for everything. I hope I gave my husband enough credit -- obviously he does a ton, too, but I think a lot of things around the house naturally falls my way. And even without kids, there is a lot involved in just running a household! I'm sure your list entails lots of non-kids-related things that I may not be doing. :)

  2. I felt like I was read my life! It's always good to know that the moms club stretches far and wide. I was feeling the weight I carry the last 48 hours while in the hospital with my daughter. As mothers, we sure do carry a ton, but it makes us such strong women! It's great that you have such a supportive family. I feel grateful for having that support as well. Oh and I LOVE that you don't use disposable bags... awesome!

    1. I hope your daughter is okay -- 48 hours is a long time to be away from everything and trying to take care of your daughter, too! I know I'm not alone in the list of things that I carry every day and that is what makes it all easier...knowing that there are millions of other women out there doing the same thing.

      My aversion to bags borders on ridiculous at times. When I do get a paper bag (as they are sometimes inevitable), I cut the top half of it off, put the top into the bottom half to strengthen it and then use it as a compost bag since the whole thing can go in my compost when I'm done. At least I'm using it that way!

    2. That's a GREAT idea for re-using the bags! Think I may just steal that one ;)

  3. I am not a mother & that's one thing I can't relate to, but everything else resonates completely!!! (I'm always carrying too many things out of the store because I feel too guilty getting a bag when I know I have 10 of them in my car). And I think it's a female thing to "carry it all" but it comes with a little maturity. (My darling 20-year-old step-daughter is happy to be taken care of right now). My sister and I actually talked about the fact that we both grew up thinking we had to be everything to everyone & do everything ourselves - earn money, doing the cooking, do the shopping do the cleaning, keep up on all the thank yous, Christmas cards, gifts, yard work, keep in shape, and if kids are in the picture, they're our responsibility, too. And then there's entertaining and that falls on our shoulders as well. Occassionally, I have little mental breakdowns - wishing I didn't have to carry it all on my shoulds all the time, but I also couldn't have it anyother way. Kristen, you are carrying a major load and you do it so well that your family might not even notice how much you do. It's much easier to notice things that aren't working than to notice when they do work, but don't short change your worth. Your family would be lost without you!!! And I am so appreciative of your perspective and transparency. I can't tell you how much it helps me feel better about my own load.

    1. Being a stepmom counts as being a mother! I know Ian's stepmom does a TON for him (granted, he is younger) but I know you and I'm sure you do a lot to take care of her. You and your sister have always been ones to "do it all" and make it look effortless. And you are carrying more these days than anyone I know. Without a doubt! I am in awe when I look at all you are going through and the fact that you continue to work, run, keep your house together, cook amazing healthy meals, grocery shop and take care of your sweet hubby. You do it all with such grace, Jamie! Call me the next time you have a mental breakdown and I'll bring over some wine. ;)

    2. You've got a deal! :)

  4. We carry so much! Love how you put this together. Hot pregger chick, btw!!! Love the last picture! Sorry your foot is still bothering you. Take care of it now instead of denying. You'll be more sorry later. You know that!

    1. Ha! Yes, my hot bikini pic! I was 36 weeks pregnant and in Hawaii with my husband -- secretly hoping the baby would come early and I'd have to stay in Hawaii a little longer.

      I'm back to pool running until next Wednesday when I go to see a podiatrist. I should have stopped running on Saturday after my run but wanted to see how it felt after my 10 mile progression run on Monday. And then had to run on Tuesday because it was with Amanda and Stephanie!

  5. This is an absolutely stunning post!

    You're so very right - we do carry a lot in our arms, on our minds, in our hearts.

    Love the photos and crossing my fingers that your foot's okay!!

    1. Thanks, Galit! I had an appointment with a podiatrist yesterday and I am starting on a path towards healing/treating the issue. I'm thinking of transitioning to minimalist shoes and focusing on Chi Running techniques. Should be interesting! :) Have a great day!!