Sometimes, my sweet boy, that little hand of yours holds me captive.
A hand so small, with fingers the size of caterpillars and knuckles no bigger than Japanese beetles. (You’re on a bug kick at the moment.) Each finger is tipped with a perfectly-crafted whorl, a physical rendering of your propensity for constant motion.
The skin of your palm is still soft and unweathered, though there is a seemingly permanent layer of dirt beneath your fingernails—a touch of imperfection that accentuates the perfectness of your tiny toddler hand.
A hand so small, and yet it does so much.
It presses dandelions into my palm—staining it yellow, like your fingertips—connecting us with the bright mark of your unadulterated kindness. I smile, happy that you’re still too young to recognize the weeds in this world. You see beauty in everything.
It clutches a popsicle stick on a hot summer day, then tugs at my shorts as you ask for more, leaving its print behind in a shade of purple that my Tide pen is no match for. I look up to see that same purple smeared across your face like war paint, and my irritation melts as quickly as the frozen treat in your hand. You make it so hard to stay angry.
It points to the word “red” when we read Pete the Cat, and gestures excitedly as you tell me that Pete’s red shoes are your favorite, because they look like the ones Daddy wears when he works out. I kiss the top of your head, touched by the love and admiration you have for the man I married. You (and I) have excellent taste.
It digs in the dirt and plucks roly polies out of the grass, pinching them between inquisitive fingers. I cringe when you offer them to me, but can’t help laughing as you flick them across the ground like teeny marbles. You are such a boy. (But Mama's not, so we’ve really got to get over this bug phase.)
It grasps metal Hot Wheels cars, running them up and down the length of my body as though I’m a living racetrack. I laugh as you call out “speed bump” when you reach my nose (until the tiny tire gets caught in my nose ring). You are so creative.
It meticulously picks all the marshmallows out of your Lucky Charms, separating them by color before popping them into your mouth. You offer me one, and I smile when I see the shape in your hand: You are sharing your heart with me.
It reaches for my phone whenever I pull it out in front of you, not because you want to play with it, but because you want to toss it aside. (You hate it when Mama texts.) I allow you to do so, and instead of reading the letters LOL on a screen, I laugh with you as we read your favorite story. You remind me what's most important.
It points to your boo-boo after you take a tumble at the playground, indicating the spot I need to “kiss all better.” I touch my lips to your scraped knee, then watch you jump up and resume playing as though nothing happened. You still believe Mama can fix anything.
It holds your favorite blanket close to you, wrinkling the soft fabric in the tight grip of your minuscule fingers. (I bought you that blanket before I even met you.) I smile, and the skin around my eyes creases, mirroring the folds in your blanket. I cherish those lines: They are love wrinkles.
It helps your brother pick up toys at the end of the day, then gives me a high-five when I tell you how proud you make me. I revel in the slight sting as your itty bitty palm slaps mine. You still think high-fiving Mama is cool.
It wipes at the tears that run down your face when someone hurts you, and closes around my fingers when I, too, try to brush away your pain. At other times, when you see me hurt, you return the favor. Your compassion brings even more tears to my eyes.
It slides into mine when we go for walks around the neighborhood, your grip slipping ever so slightly when we both start to sweat in the sticky summer heat. I pause to dry my hand on my shorts, and you immediately reach for my other one. You’re not ready to let go. I'm okay with that.
This hand so small: It explores and discovers, it expresses and creates, it comforts and shares.
A hand so small—a hand that grew inside me, in that sacred space where you and I first shared the gift of life. A hand that, now fully formed, continues to share that gift with me every day.
A hand that is a literal extension of the perfect person my body created, and a figurative extension of myself.
Sometimes, I marvel at the irony of its smallness, wondering how a hand so small can hold so much.
Because when I see the beautiful things it does, I still feel it there—inside me—holding on to my heart.