What are you holding?

Jul 9, 2019

What Are You Holding


“We hold so very much, don’t we?  So very much.”




I’ve said this more than once to a woman new in her pregnancy.  There is no glow yet, there is no round belly, just the constant green malaise of morning sickness, and usually the feeling of being subsumed.  In those early days of pregnancy, a woman learns live and to make cereal in the mornings and pull the weeds from the garden while holding the dual possibilities of motherhood and loss, checking, each time she uses the bathroom, for devastation.

It is to hold, in one body, the possibility not only of life and loss, but to hold every single question about what that might mean for one’s life, every single moment of every single day,

while also making the cereal in the mornings and pulling the weeds from the garden.


We women hold so much in our bodies.  In our hearts.


It’s an inner experience that skirts around the edges of our awareness, day in and day out, without relent, but one which often goes without naming.  And so, the naming of it is to feel seen, so deeply.

We hold the dates of every upcoming birthday party,

the care of grieving friends, those who might need a phone call today, or a batch of homemade granola next week.

We hold the awareness of our childrens’ challenges and foibles, noticing quietly, but often not mentioning anything, when the baby doesn’t learn to roll over, or the teenager hasn’t been eating.

We hold it all, the fluttering in our chests, the empty toilet paper rolls, the co-worker’s cubicle-sheltered admissions that she is unhappy, and brushing up her resume.  The recipe for grandma’s pie crust, the exact right words to say in a phone call to the parent of a bully.

We hold it all.  Somewhere between the crown of our heads, the edges of our hearts, and the turning of our gut, all of it.


It is both our greatest power, and our greatest undoing.


So, sweet love, I want to say,

not – at least today – anything whatsoever about the patriarchy or emotional labour or the magnificence that women bring forth life and nurture it forward in a million tiny significant ways

but rather

I see you.

I know the tensions your heart holds, because I hold them too.

I know the silent reckonings that you make every day, because I make them too.

The recipe for them, I have found, is to render them both powerful and powerless in the naming,

and so, sweet love,

if you can,

whisper it soft, tell it loud

to the bathroom walls or the convenience store clerk or the person you love the most:

you hold so much

and we can help hold it, too.


What are you holding, sweet love?  Take a moment, take some time not to make a list of everything you must do or everything you are responsible for, but a list of what’s on your heart.  Fold it up and hold it tight, share it soft or loud, or burn it up and let it go, the choice is yours, but name it.