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Look at my mother holding my baby sister in this old photo, how impossibly young and unafraid she looks. I used to carry my babies everywhere like that too, the way every parent does. Cradled in my arms, or with their legs straddling my hip. Hoisted onto my shoulders. Swung across my stomach like a football. Piggyback. Twice I flipped one daughter over onto her belly, half-vertical along my extended arm, to force out a piece of food she was choking on with the heel of my hand.
It’s the most natural thing in the world to carry your baby with just your arms. And at the same time, holy crud, it’s almost unfathomable. How all of us balance on two legs on this floating planet suspended in space, hoisting babies around like footballs. As if they didn’t depend on us for every single second of life, and us on them.
Gravity, by Kim Addonizio
Carrying my daughter to bed
I remember how light she once was,
no more than a husk in my arms.
There was a time I could not put her down,
so frantic was her crying if I tried
to pry her from me, so I held her
for hours at night, walking up and down the hall,
willing her to fall asleep. She’d grow quiet,
pressed against me, her small being alert
to each sound, the tension in my arms, she’d take
my nipple and gaze up at me,
blinking back fatigue she’d fight whatever terror
waited beyond my body in her dark crib. Now
that she’s so heavy I stagger beneath her,
she slips easily from me, down
into her own dreaming. I stand over her bed,
fixed there like a second, dimmer star,
though the stars are not fixed: someone
once carried the weight of my life.