Holding Hands

Today, I tried something new, since John had the stroller with him in the car. Zach and I walked all the way to the neighborhood park, which is a pretty good distance when  your legs are 6 inches long (Zach’s, not mine). Zach did well, and his hard work was rewarded when we arrived, as he saw the swings and jungle gym and sand pit in a whole new light now that he is old enough to really enjoy them. Of course I took the camera, and I am glad I did. But I am not about to bore you with another long post of photos, all of Zach climbing on this or that, swinging, digging. But there is one photo I got that made my heart sing just a bit. And mourn a little too.  I intended to get just Zach in the photo, but I got something a little different this time.

Holding hands. Zachy and Mommy.

I have held both of my boys to my chest when they were really small. I’ve rocked them to sleep and cuddled them. I have kissed boo-boos and nursed a teething baby. I have stayed up all night, combing through my brain and baby books, trying everything to soothe a colicky baby. I have witnessed first words and first steps. I have had my day brightened by beaming smiles and the sound a baby giggles and childish laughter. But somehow, they grow. And they outgrow the little ball configuration on your chest. They get too big to wear in a wrap close to your heart. At some point, and you don’t even realize it at the time, but you look back and realize that the last time you nursed them was really the last time. If you would only have known, just had a small clue, you would have cherished it a little bit more. But just like that, it becomes a memory instead of something you just do.

And at some point, the concept of holding a child’s hand, of guiding them, becomes less literal and more of a metaphor for raising them. Oh, I still hold Evan’s hand. Just somehow, he doesn’t realize I’m doing it and the act is invisible to the eye. I hold on because I am their mother. And I love them enough to help them navigate the world as they find their own way. There is some cheesy quote out there, and forgive me for not knowing the exact words, or even the author, but it mentions that parents hold their child’s hand for a little while, but their heart forever.

One day, most definitely sooner than I would prefer, I will have to let go. It is at that point that I will hope that the cheesy quote is right. But for now, I’ll keep holding on.

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