The weight of responsibility.
My son is nine years old. Occasionally, he will fall asleep in one of the big chairs instead of finding his way into his bed. And I still pick him up while he is asleep and tuck him in bed. But here's the thing: He has a bed way up there. Sort of a bunk bed, but there's no lower bunk. You know, his desk is under there, creative use of space and all that. So putting a sleeping nine year old in his bed without his waking up is, well, quite a feat. First, I lay his duvet over the rail. I get the kid and carry him to his room. I stand on a sturdy chair, lift him to about chest height and turn my arms and grasp the rail under the duvet. Then I sort of shrug with all my might, stand on tippy toes and sort of roll the kid with the duvet onto the mattress.
Most times, right at the shrug-and-tippy-toe part, some instinct wakes the child (like the fear-of-impending-death-by-falling-off-a-cliff instinct) and he helps flop himself onto the mattress.
He's heavy, but never too heavy. And he's never as heavy as I thought he would be.
I was in the waiting room awaiting the test results. I averted my eyes from looking at the giant photo album on the table of blotchy-faced, sweat-stained women mugging with their freshly born, wrinkled, puffy-eyed humanoids. The magazines in the waiting room had nothing to offer but advice on how to fashion toys out of old plastic jugs, ads for hideous giant plastic yard toys, and articles on doing something with strained onion juice for earaches. I'm too distracted to pull out any work. So I just wait. Wait, wait, waiting. Just a formality, I think. Nothing to worry about, I'm certain. Wait, wait, waiting.
The nurse called my name and I stood to walk over to the next room. I turned to pick up my briefcase laden with laptop and binder and papers and a calculator and cell phone and business whatnot and thought spontaneously how much my briefcase had the weight of a small child.
And it really did.
Positive? Did the nurse mean "positive" in the sense of "positive for me", because she knows I just got a promotion, and that I am going to be moving, and that the new responsibilities include a lot of travel and I have no interest in hideous giant plastic yard toys or applying some alchemy with onions for earaches?
No, "positive" meant I was in the middle of manufacturing my very own humanoid. The nurse really did not understand, did she? I suppose, technically, as a woman, I "could" be a mother (imagine me really wiggling the bunny ear fingers for the quotation marks) ... but me? ME? The nurse simply did not understand.
I needed some air. I thanked the nurse and got outta there. I sat in my car. My cute little 3 series. A company car. But I also had my eye on the cuter z3. A two-seater, people, which would be mine as soon as the promotion kicked in. I turn on the radio and the news is on: Apparently, a woman in America just gave birth to seven babies.
Seven babies. The hospital staff called the mother "Snow White".
In other news, in a town in Southern Germany, a new father was able to get out of paying the fine for running a red light, because the traffic camera actually photographed his wife in the passenger seat giving birth.
Spontaneous birth in the Subaru while going through the red light. This was starting to feel like a conspiracy! There were babies everywhere! A child? I would never be able to carry the weight of responsibility of a child.
But responsibility is made so light, light as mountain air, when a child is your responsibility. I can still lift this sleepy child into bed as I have all his life. I love having the weight of this responsibility. Nine years feels like a week.