It’s Mother’s Day afternoon, and I am perched, alone, in the window of a coffee shop. There is whipped cream on my hot chocolate, a scandalously speedy internet connection, and no squirming anyones in my arms. When I leave this place, I will go to one of my favorite yarn haunts and shop, guilt free, with a gift from a husband who is quite clear on what my definition of heaven looks like, who at this very moment is at home pacing a teething babe to sleep, each of his footsteps earning me this blissful moment of peace.
It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m thinking about my mother’s hands. One of the earliest things I can remember is playing with my mothers hands as I sat on her lap or next to her in church – her rings, her freckles, her pretty unbitten nails. My hands are like hers (minus the pretty nails), a gift that neither of us have ever been particularly fond of – broad palms, copious moles, fingers that double in size on long walks or the first hint of summer. We’ve joked about our hands “Yeah, thanks a lot for these, Mom.” I’ve long given up on wearing costume jewelry rings, long embraced the cringe that comes with some photographer’s artistic close up of my heat-engorged paws. But Fable is fascinated with my hands, and as her tiny ones trace the freckles and rings and nails of my hands, my mother’s hands, I am in both moments at once – I am child and mother, myself and her also, and tears come. And so the curse becomes the blessing.
By far the hardest thing of my motherhood so far is the slow, stubborn relinquishing of self. Because what I want to do is watch the Project Runway finale on Hulu, but the consequence will be a war with a tiny bored baby who craves a morning walk in sunshine and knows nothing of compromise. When I move with Fable, when I structure my life around her needs and her growth, we exist in fantastic harmony. I know this, but I also know that I’ll find out who won Project Runway on Facebook in, like, five minutes, and it will be ruined if I don’t watch it right now and something so simple becomes soooooo hard.
Babies know all the secrets. Halfway around the block, I’ve forgotten I ever cared about reality television, as the reality of her impossibly perfect brand new tiny voice celebrates leaves and breezes and obviously that is everything, and the chore becomes the gift. Until tomorrow, when we’ll fight the same battle again.
What I don’t remember is a time when my mother ever seemed anything less than sure. I sit here, two years older than she was as she sat with tiny baby me, and my hands are her hands and I still don’t feel anything like a grown-up. And I know she must have been also and always making all of this up as she went along, my mother who was always so capable and so wise and so easily together. And I wonder at those tiny baby hands on my hands her hands, if they will grow up puffy and freckled and cursed and blessed and sure that I know exactly what I’m doing. Part of me is tempted to whisper “Run!”, but the larger part of me has my mother’s hands. And so the weakness becomes strength.
Curse becomes blessing, the chore becomes the gift, the weak are made strong. You place the fullness of Your endless self into tiny baby hands, You watch them bleed, You loosen the terrified vice grip of parenthood and His death becomes my life. Then sings my soul. Then sings my soul.
I am grateful today, to be made in her image, to be made in His, that she is made in mine, in ours, in Yours.