Sunday, October 21, 2012

Holding hands

It has been a killer weekend—two birthday parties, one local parade featuring Frances and her school, errands, cleaning, cooking, playing, and just generally spending as much time outdoors as humanly possible (this weather is incredible, no?).  And while it was all fun (and I plan to share very soon), my poor brain has nearly nothing left to offer tonight.

On our way home this afternoon from our second birthday party of the weekend, Frances and I stopped at a local elementary school.  It was ridiculously gorgeous outside and I selfishly wanted to spend a little extra time with my favorite Kindergartener.  She climbed the jungle gym, slid down the slides, maneuvered the monkey bars, and finished by running the baseball field many times over.  After her final homerun celebration, we both sat down, sweaty and panting, on the dugout’s old wooden benches and curled up together.  She began to get chilly in her sleeveless party dress, so I wrapped my arms around her and held her tiny hands.  Then, Frances started to do what she does a lot—sing. 

Frances doesn’t just sing songs she knows, she makes up lyrics and melodies.  She’s no Carly Simon and the lyrics are often just stream of conscious thoughts, but to hear her soft falsetto drift through the sunny, cool fall afternoon was simply magic.  I smiled, kissed her sweet head, and glanced down at our hands interlaced together.

I realized then that my hands looked so much like the way I remember my own mother’s looking when I was a young girl.  Strong, lined with life stories, uneven fingernails, proud, and safe.  I loved my mother’s hands.  I loved touching them, holding them, knowing that when they were around me, all was right with the world.  I know I asked her questions about her hands that annoyed her—why were they so rough?  Why did her knuckles wrinkle when she straightened out her fingers?  Why did she have those funny spots on the back?  But to me, these ‘imperfections’ were what made them perfect and I wanted to know everything about them—not to embarrass her, but to emulate her.  To me, I wanted my hands to look just like hers.  I wanted those beautiful veins sticking out near her wrist bone.  I wanted those faded white scars near the fingertips from years of hard work and child rearing.  And as I looked at my aging hands grasping Frances’s baby soft palms, I realized that was exactly what had happened.

Sometimes Frances will ask me similar questions about my appearance—why do I have so many moles on my legs.  What are those funny flesh-colored bumps on my arms?  How many lines across my forehead can she count?  I take most of these in stride, but never thought much about them until today.  And now I wonder if she is studying all of these features for the same reason I studied my mother—because I couldn’t imagine having a more beautiful, perfect, lovely woman to comfort and care for me at the end of the day than my mother and I wanted nothing more than to ensure one day I could become the same.  I wanted those wrinkles; I wanted those bumps; I wanted those curves.  Because to me, they symbolized strength, smarts and most of all love.

Someday, I hope to become the person my daughter thinks I am.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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