Right now, as I look down at my hands, I notice—like most days—they are rough, cracked, and unpolished. There is dirt caked beneath each nail from a rather riotous game of monster trucks in the mud with my son earlier this afternoon. One glance at my wedding ring reveals it has suffered an equally disastrous fate.

If I had any aspiration of suddenly becoming a hand model, I would have to leave that dream at the door, because there is simply no saving the hot mess these mitts have become. They are anything but feminine and sometimes look decades older than they actually are.

And yet, I love them.

You see, these hands have softly swung by my husband’s side, hand-in-hand, for 10-and-a-half years worth of evening strolls, afternoon shopping trips, and much-needed date nights. They have intertwined with his rugged fingers during long road trips, beautiful church services, and 19 hours of childbirth.

These hands have patted a baby back to sleep, wiped dirty bottoms, and decorated a nursery so adorable it could have been featured in a magazine. My fingers have dabbed away tears, applied bandages, and massaged sore muscles. I have even licked my thumb to clean a few cheeks now and then.

These hands have worked all day to try to keep my house tidy and my family well fed. They have been covered in grease from assisting my husband in the garage, paint from an afternoon of crafting, and raw meat from a last-minute dinner request for spaghetti and meatballs.

These hands are strong, yet soft. They are strong enough to lift a loaded-up barbell at the gym and a squirmy toddler at home. Nevertheless, they are soft enough to rub my child’s back when he is feeling sick and caress his cheek to let him know how much I love him.

These hands have saved a choking person’s life and prayed relentlessly for the lives of countless others.

These hands have spent hours at the computer, busily typing away in an attempt to ensure my words reach others. They share recipes, stories, and experiences with people all over the world, hoping and praying that they make a difference—even if just for one person.

As they age, I know my hands can expect to see a few more wrinkles, perhaps a scar or two, and maybe even the bulbous knuckles brought on by arthritis. Each day I live life to the fullest may cost me a bit of their youth, but it is a price I will gladly continue to pay.

These hands are not beautiful. They are cracked, wrinkled, scarred, and bony. But they are a sign of a life well lived that will only continue to get better.

They are my hands, your hands, her hands.

They are a mother’s hands. Let’s wear them proudly.

Kayla Runkel

Kayla is a former marketer turned stay-at-home-mom to two sweet boys. You can follow her blog, The Rustic Hideaway, or her writing page, K.C. Runkel. When she is not writing, Kayla loves teaching fitness classes, reading books, and spending time with her husband and sons exploring her favorite place in the world, Wyoming. Or as she simply calls it: home.