Hotzler: The weight of becoming stronger

It's heavy, but our kids have taught us they can handle it

Mary Jo Hotzler headshot
Mary Jo Hotzler is Forum Communications Company’s Chief Content Officer and editor of On the Minds of Moms. She lives in Fargo with her husband Heath and twin boys.

Every day when my kids schlepp their bursting-at-the-seems backpacks over their shoulders and head out the door, I’m astounded by how much they have to carry around and wonder how their little shoulders can handle it all.

I’m referring to those early days of middle school when instead of storing supplies in a locker and grabbing only what’s needed for class, they keep all of their belongings glued to their backs. Of course they eventually get comfortable with those pesky locker combinations and become confident floating from class to class without this added weight, but it takes a few weeks.

One morning this fall, while watching the kids waddle into school (this time carrying musical instruments to boot), the symbolism occurred to me. Kids went into this school year carrying a lot of extra weight — literally and figuratively — on their shoulders. But unlike the backpacks, this “weight of the world” feeling will likely stay with them a lot longer.

Parents seem to be divided on everything these days, from masks and vaccines to curriculum and learning. It’s hard to imagine some of that anxiety, anger, frustration, irritation or even detachment isn’t rubbing off. That said, kids often have great insight and we should take a cue from them every now and then.


Take those heavy backpacks. When I express concern over my kids carrying so much around, I hear: “Don’t worry, Mom, it’s going to make us strong!” I’m not sure if someone told them that or if it’s how they feel, but it’s definitely true.

Adversity, pain and challenges often do make us stronger. This applies to kids and adults. Sometimes our experiences can be channeled into something positive or life-changing. You will meet a few women who have done just that in this latest edition of On the Minds of Moms magazine. These are moms who have turned grief, hardship and health struggles into opportunities for hope, healing and even happiness.

Of course you can also find our regular features, like Mod Mom and Rad Dad, and our delicious family-friendly recipes from contributor Jessica Rerick. As always, please reach out to us if you know of a local mom (or dad) who deserves to be featured in a future edition of the magazine, or if you or your business is interested in advertising.

Mary Jo Hotzler is the editor of On the Minds of Moms magazine and chief content officer at Forum Communications Company. She lives in Fargo with her husband, two boys and two cats. In her free time, Mary Jo enjoys interior design and amateur woodworking.
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