Wednesday, February 10, 2010
When you were born, I did what all mothers do after the business and mess of labor are finished. I lay there exhausted while you slept on my chest, and as the sun crept through the windows of the hospital room, I held your hand in mine and counted. One, two, three, four, five. Then the other hand. One, two, three, four, five. They were perfect, those chubby little hands with short fingers. Everyone said they were manly hands, not delicate or dainty. I loved everything about them, about you. You were perfect.
We took you home and adored you as only first time parents can adore their children, observing every new development with wonder and amazement. We stared at your little fingers, gripping my finger as you nursed. We watched you on your blanket on the floor, reaching for the red squares of fabric. When you discovered your fingers, turning your hands around and around looking at each one, we were enthralled. I delighted the moment you learned to put those hands together to pull a toy to your mouth. I remember the exact moment it happened, outside a barbeque restaurant, pulling on the toy attached to your carseat.
Those hands have learned to do so much since then, to put pieces in a puzzle, to hold a fork and spoon, to color and paint and write your name. Those hands have stroked my cheek and clinched in anger. They've tickled your brother and pinched him, too. They've swung swords at imaginary dragons, thrown footballs to your daddy in the backyard, and climbed trees higher than your mommy finds safe. Those chubby baby fingers, clinched in a newborn fist, are becoming the strong hands of a boy learning to do the work of manhood. They are so much bigger now. I noticed it as I held one of them tonight.
You had finally given up after about your eighty-seventh question. How does static electricity work? Why is the answer to Gollum's riddle "time"? Will you scratch my back? Finally, you lay sleeping beside me, no longer small enough to curl up on my chest, your five and a half year old body stretched out in your top bunk. Your hand was gripping mine.
And I counted. One, two, three, four, five. And the other hand. One, two, three, four, five. We've made it this far with all ten digits intact, and those hands are learning, slowly and with many mistakes, to do the good and faithful work to which God will one day call you. I just pray I will be strong enough to hold onto them until we get there. In the meantime, I will stay beside you, looking for that last bit of baby pudginess which is hiding somewhere in those hands, those perfect, handsome, manly hands.