The Hands of a Mother

10 05 2009

I wrote this little piece a few years ago, when I was thinking about hands. I remembered what my mom’s hands looked like when I was a kid, and one day I looked down at my own and realized they looked quite a lot like hers. There are no one’s hands I’d rather mine be like. Love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

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            My mother’s hands are large.

            They are not lily-white, smooth, and dainty; but are tanned, calloused, and worn.

            My mother’s hands are strong. They tame bread dough with firm pushes and punches, pull hot taffy with artistry and flair.

            My mother’s hands create. They build instead of tear down. Their warmth enfolds my smaller hands as she teaches me to sew. They are patient, kind, nimble, and dependable. Whether meting out a punishment or wiping away a tear, they are sure.

            How do you get the hands of a mother? I wonder. I see in my mother’s eyes that hands such as hers do not magically appear. Hands practice and hands learn and trials teach the lessons they need to know.

            I am a mother now. Once again, my mother’s hands guide mine, positioning my newborn’s head just so, tucking in my elbow just right. I see his downy head tucked beneath her chin, her capable hands cradling his bottom and stroking his back, communicating love and steadfastness. “There, there, Little One,” they say. “Don’t you fret. I am here. You are loved.”

            When she leaves, I cry. She hugs me tight, pats my back, and whispers, “You’ll do just fine.”

            It is the middle of the night. My baby is crying, screaming, and I can’t seem to be able to get him to eat. Now I am crying, too, and I hold him close and try to pat his back just right. Soon, he quiets. I lay him on my lap and we look at each other. All of his fingers wrap around one of my own. Next to his precious new skin, mine looks tan, and it feels calloused and worn.

            My hands are large.

            They are learning to be the hands of a mother.


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10 responses

10 05 2009
laura

I absolutely love this piece. Thanks for sharing it.

11 05 2009
mandy

This is such a nice tribute. I always wonder what my kids will think of me when they are older and have some perspective on their childhood. I hope they can look back with fondness on the good times and gloss over the not-so-great.

11 05 2009
Mrs. Olsen

That was absolutely beautiful.

I have enjoyed many a soft caramel created by the hands of your mother. So that is your final test Wanda. Make a batch of licorice caramels and send them to me, and I’ll tell you if you’ve really made it in the hands department.

11 05 2009
Kathleen

I loved that. (it made me cry) It reminded me of my mother’s hands. I still remember the way they looked. I remember playing with the veins on her hands during sacrament meeting.
Thanks for sharing.

11 05 2009
Tami

Beautiful!! You have a lucky mom to have a daughter like you, and lucky kids to have you as a mom!

11 05 2009
Dina

You’re such a great writer!

12 05 2009
Candi

What a great piece. I think you should write a book… OK… Maybe when the kids are older :).

13 05 2009
Niki

Can I second Amber’s comment? My greatest memories of your mommy’s hands are the delicious creations they made too!! Do you make your mama’s candies?
ps You are such a great writer.

14 05 2009
Rae

This choked me up, too. Loved it.

18 05 2009
Ann

Have I told you lately that I think you are amazing. Man, I missed out as a kid. I love learning about you and am constantly impressed by your many talents. Thank you for sharing. You are much like your mother… a very elect lady.

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