My morning shuffle takes about an hour, and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot of my school this morning, my cell phone rang. It was my son’s teacher. Not even an hour after I dropped him off for the day and headed to my job as a high school English teacher, he felt sick and wanted to come home. He specifically asked for me to come and get him.

I made arrangements at school and turned around to pick him up. He had to wait for me because my school is 30 minutes from his, and when I did finally get there, he seemed like he just wanted to come home. He had a belly ache and whispered to me, “I missed you.” And he grabbed my hand.

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We got home and I poured him a 7 Up and got him a snack and as it seemed, he wasn’t all that sick after all. I tried not to be annoyed, and it was then, as I fought back my feelings of frustration, I noticed his hands. As he sat, eating the bagel and muffin he asked for, I watched his hands.

For some reason, I couldn’t stop staring at his hands.

His face is thinning out and his neck is elongating. When he crawls into my lap, I can feel ribs where I once only felt the cushion of a baby, toddler, boy. His arms and legs are starting to form muscles, and he started to lose teeth this past fall. All of his pants are suddenly too short, and his hair, once blonde, is growing darker by the day. All of those facts are reminders that he’s growing up and will be seven this summer. And while his hands have changed and thinned out, too, they still look like the hands of a little boy–my little boy.

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And as I sat, watching him eat his bagel and wondering if he had just been hungry after all, his hands reminded me he still needs his mama. And for whatever reason, he needed to hold my hand today when he really should have been at school. And for most of the day, we sat like that–his hand in mine. I think it was just what the doctor ordered.

Later, he wrote me a poem to thank me for coming to get him because he knows words are the greatest gift for me. As he gave me the poem, he told me his belly felt so much better when he saw me. This boy who holds my heart in the palm of his hand wrote:

You say you love me.
I love you more.
I love you 100+44.
You are my best friend. 

And you know what? Today, he just needed me, I guess. And while I know this can’t continue (and we had that talk), I’m glad he knows I will come to him in his time of need.

My vocation is to be his mother, to hold his hand like Jesus holds both of ours.

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I will hold his hand. And while my job isn’t to be his best friend, it’s my greatest honor that he thinks I am, in the here and now. It’s days like today that I will treasure when these hands turn into the hands of a man.

There is nothing holier than holding the hands of those we love and sitting with them when they need us. I hope you take some extra time to hold hands with someone you love for just a bit longer. Holy, free for the taking.

Previously published on the author’s blog

There’s just something between a mother and her son. This book is a must-read for all of the boy moms out there! Don’t have time to sit and read? Listen here, on Audible.

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Kara Lawler

Kara Lawler is a mother, wife, teacher who grew up in and lives again in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range whose work has been featured in many media outlets and some of her essays have been read millions of times. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for close to 18 years. Kara loves children, animals, and drinks her coffee on her porch every morning, no matter the weather, so she can admire the mountain view and listen to her rooster, Henry, greet the dawn.