They duck through clothing racks but their glances trace back again and again.

In and out, in and out, coordinated tutus and perfectly ponytail-ed hair. I see their question and pretend away the difference.

Concentrating on the long legs overflowing from our toddler stroller, I distract her sleepy eyes with pink fabrics and sparkly shoes.

My heart turns on its side as the question floating in the air barrels towards us.

“Why is your big girl in a baby stroller?”

And there it was.

Because we are here.

We are different. Again.

I’m dreaming of a bubble to place her in to protect her from being misunderstood. Again.

I am trying not to compare, not to wonder where we will be next year or next month or tomorrow morning. Again.

And I’m working really, really hard not to ask why we can’t get a break. Why all of my kids can’t be healthy and active and alive.

I explain to wondering little faces that my big girl is just tired, leaving out how much I wish she was begging me to trail them through fabrics.

I push our way back through the aisles, searching for something to carry the weight on my heart.

girl with heart shirt

What weight do you carry in parenthood? Is there something that occupies your mind that people would never know just by passing you in a mall?

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  1. says

    The takeaway is that you should check your transmission fluid on a regular basis, and replace it when it becomes oxidized.
    I have seen a dozen reviews of the PT where the motor was criticized as weak,
    unable to rev and so forth. Chrysler kept itself, GM kept Cadillac and
    Ford has kept Lincoln as a distant 3rd place run.
    tranny recently posted..tranny

  2. says

    I’m right there with you. Most normal strollers go to 55 pounds. My daughter is now 54 and a half pounds. We just got a prescription for a wheelchair. Sure she can walk. But with autism, adhd, and hypotonia, it’s more often than not that we’ll be blocks from the car and she’ll sit down and REFUSE to walk. I can’t take her anywhere without a stroller. Her twin brother “just” has autism, so most of the time he does walk (even if he’s screaming about it), but when she’s in the mood to walk I DO use the stroller for him (they’re almost 5 and a half, by the way) and I wonder if they make double wheelchairs because life was easier when my twins were in a double stroller and they were the right age….. I HATE the stares and comments.
    sortedmegablocks recently posted..Teaching Independence

  3. says

    Oh, Jessica, I want to offer you a stroller to carry around your big, beautiful, heavy heart. I am consistently amazed by how much kindness and compassion you have, even when telling stories that have hurt you. What lucky kids you have to have a mom like you. xo
    Kristen @ Motherese recently posted..Commutes

  4. says

    I really feel sorry about your thoughts. People are so stupid! They don’t think before they ask something. They should think about that there must be a reason why a girl needs to be in a baby stroller. But looking at the beautiful face of your daughter, I think you can forget all this shit.
    Julie recently posted..cosmetic dentists

  5. says

    ::Sigh:: Oh, kids. They can be so cruel in their innocence.

    I’m sorry, Jess. Your limits have been tested far more than any mother’s should be, and you have every right to question why. Hell, I’VE even questioned why and I don’t even know you outside of blogging. I just feel for you. Hurt, anger, despair… I feel it all for you.

    As for me and the crosses I bear in motherhood – and in life, really – I just wonder if I’m good enough. People always tell me how composed and confident I appear on the outside. Heh… if they could only live inside my head for one day, they’d be singing a different tune.
    Kristin @ What She Said recently posted..It’s In Our Blood

  6. says

    Oh, sometimes I hate, hate, hate people. I am so sorry. I write often of the perilous gulf between how we appear and how we are, and what an ocean of pain and misconception can spring up in between those two poles. Sending you and all five of your children much love. xox

  7. says

    That must be so hard. People think they can just look at you (or your family) and know what’s unsaid. Like, they know how you should, what you should be doing. We’ve been dealing with the whole gluten free thing for my daughter (and our whole house, really), and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that it’s forever. She’ll always be the one in class that can’t have crackers, or goldfish, or cookies. She’ll always be the one that has to bring along her snacks and her meals, wherever we go, and I’m always going to be the mom that questions everything we order/buy/pack.
    Greta recently posted..Great Expectations: Angela of Tread Softly

  8. says

    I wished that people minded their business. Really. I’m so sorry Mama.
    For me that weight is my bipolar disorder and my chronic back pain. People think that I am incapable of being a “good parent”…I’m serious. My Dad tells me that all the time.
    Even though I know it isn’t true, on those bad days, those words kill me. It makes me feel even more guilty.
    Kimberly recently posted..She Was My World

  9. says

    My heart aches with every post I read where your heart is heavy and sad. I am just so sorry you need to carry this weight…even if you do it with grace (which you do).

    You are such an amazing mom..such a sweet,bright light in this world and I hate that that light is dimmed by the hardships you face.

    I think as moms we all carry the weight of our mothering, that we are only as happy as our saddest child..right? But if I can help you in any way to carry this on your heart…I will. You don’t have to carry it alone. Xoxo
    Kir recently posted..Just Be Enough: At the Back of the Boasting Bus

  10. says

    The little kids in my mom’s group have randomly started asking if Julia is a baby, since she can’t walk and doesn’t talk much in public. And people attribute her slumping in the stroller or her collapsing on to me when I have her in the baby carrier to “one tired little girl”, as opposed to the fact that she still can’t sit up completely independently. Soon, I know the kids will have the words to ask “what is wrong with her?”, and people will begin to notice it’s not tiredness that has her looking like she’s going to slump over. It gets easier, it gets harder, but I won’t dare say it’ll get easier for you to hear it, because I know Julia isn’t going to get worse, and I know you *don’t* know what is in store of McKenna. I guess we don’t get a break because why are we more entitled to one than anybody else?
    Amy recently posted..The Big 3

  11. says

    Beautifully written. I so get it. Those questions are so hard. Just when I think we’re past it, they pop up again from a new direction. I never know the right answer.
    Ashley recently posted..Moving Forward!

  12. says

    I wish I could help you carry the weight too. Beautiful post.

    The bittersweet weight which I carry is my 2 sons who are in my heart not in my arms.
    Lanie recently posted..What I Need

  13. says

    I’m so sorry you have to carry this with you. But know you are not alone in feeling the weight of motherhood and trying hard not to ask yourself why. Maybe just knowing that there are other mother’s who carry a weight with them will help you carry yours. You do it all so wonderfully well.
    Julia recently posted..Building Blocks

  14. says

    It drives me crazy when people judge, and it hurts too. My 4 year old has a lot of behavioral and speech issues, and he still uses his binky. People have said the meanest things to me about it, and once, a stranger in a store even yanked it out of his mouth and told him he was too old for it-which led to an epic meltdown and ruined our day. I was so furious I didn’t even know what to do. People need to stop judging others and their children when they don’t know the whole story.
    Alison at Mommy is a Power Ranger recently posted..Bad Neighbors

  15. says

    I have lots of different weights I carry in motherhood, but I think the hardest is when well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) people make judgments about my kids, especially my daughter. We too use a baby stroller for her at age 4. Most people don’t think about it though because she is the size of an 18 month old. It’s when they hear her talk that they start it. They are simply amazed by this baby who is SO intelligent. Then I explain that she is 4 and they make their statements, both with eyes and their mouths. My daughter wants a wheel chair so people will stop thinking she is a baby. She can’t walk far without getting excessively tired, especially if it is hot or cold. Yet, her doctors just tell us to use the stroller because she is so small. And there is the weight–trying to find the proper balance.
    Mom On A Line recently posted..Nightmare

  16. says

    Your writing always makes me feel so deeply. It hurts and yet I love it. Feeling love, feeling pain, feeling the fear of the unknown… all of it. And yes, feeling the weight. There are quite a few things that occupy my mind that people passing by would never deign to imagine. You are such a brilliant mom…and I mean that in the “shining star in the sky” kind of brilliant. I am always glad to have come here.
    XLMIC recently posted..X = 10 …

  17. says

    This darn world and its judging. I wish I could make this go away, but I think the easier thing to do is to wish that the next wonderful moment doesn’t take so long in finding you.
    Amanda recently posted..Give and Take