We’re walking through the parking lot. I reach out to grab her hand. She reaches right back and holds on. Effortlessly. Without thinking.
And I don’t have much time.
I know it’s coming – the day my kids won’t hold my hand. The thought makes me physically ill. I’m OK with almost every other stage passing. The diapers, the first tooth, the crawling, first words, first steps, the first day of kindergarten, and the passing of time. I really am OK with it all. I love the present. The here and now. I know how hard I’ve worked to get here – to get to this stage – and I honestly would not step back in time (except for when time is walking all over my face, then, yes, I would say it can step off for a bit).
But the hand holding. No, I literally can’t let it go.
I can see it happening already with my eight-year-old son. He’s reluctant. He’s too “big” to hold my hand in a parking lot – or anywhere else – and I certainly would never want to embarrass him. Yea, I know he’s not going to run out and get hit by a car, but I’m used to keeping up with lots of moving parts. Holding hands is a big deal to me. It’s a means of keeping us together, keeping us safe. The first thing I shout before we step off a curb is “Hold hands!!!”
But he doesn’t reach for me anymore.
She does. Even though she’s the oldest. She still holds my hand. But for how long? I’ve got, what, one maybe two years tops? The ticking of the clock pulsates in my brain, and every time her hands reaches for mine, I want to freeze time. I know that with three boys and only one girl, my days of holding hands are extremely short.
Moms go from carrying babies to wrestling toddlers to – finally – peacefully holding the hand of a child. Then all of a sudden, it’s just not cool to hold hands with Mom. It goes away as quickly as it came.
Once our kids are too big to hold hands, where does that leave us? What do a mom’s hands do besides cook, clean, scrub, wipe, and hold? I don’t know about you, but I’d take one hold over a million cooks, cleans, scrubs, or wipes. But, I’m quickly realizing my days of the latter are far longer – my mom is still cooking, cleaning, scrubbing, and wiping, and I can’t remember the last time I held her hand.
Yes, I know there is (almost) always a husband’s hand to hold. Or maybe a friend’s hand. But holding a child’s hand is the most unconditional. The one with the least strings attached. The shortest-lived.
I wonder if I’ll always remember reaching my hand back as I cross the parking lot; I wonder if I’ll always remember the feeling of the small weight of a little hand pressing into mine; and, I wonder if my kids will ever remember the feeling of reaching up to hold on to my hand tightly.