When you were born, your little hand curled around my finger. I marveled at the small lines across your palm, and the paper-thin nails on your tiny fingers. I knew you needed me for your survival, and that was such a huge thing. A responsibility I had never expected and wasn’t sure I was prepared for.
As you grew we figured it out together—eating, sleeping, playing—we fell into our routine and I learned what you needed from me and how to provide it.
Soon, I held your dimpled fingers as you learned to walk. You took those first tentative steps, discovering there was a whole new world three feet high. I watched you go from walking to running, skipping, and jumping. You still needed me to help you eat, dress, and bathe, but little hints of independence would peek out more and more. You wanted the purple shirt, not the pink one. You liked sandals more than tennis shoes, and Nemo was your hero.
Soon the day I craved and dreaded had come. I held your trembling hand in mine as you made your way to your kindergarten class. You looked so grown up with your bigger-than-you backpack, first day of school clothes and special frog necklace. You looked over your shoulder as I waved you in, and your big eyes seemed to be saying, Wait mom, I’m so excited but so nervous, too. Don’t leave yet.
All through that year we learned together. You learned how to pack your own backpack and I learned to let you do it yourself. You skipped ahead farther and farther as we walked to school each day, and I constantly reminded myself it was good for you to feel strong and smart enough to lead the way.
Your hands keep growing, along with the rest of you. Sometimes you slip your young lady hand into mine, and I hold on tight—marveling that something that was once so tiny is the same size as mine now. I don’t want to let go. I want to hold onto that little girl in her ruffled skirt, with missing front teeth and the assurance that Mommy can do no wrong.
But you no longer need me the way you once did. You no don’t need me to pick out your clothes or help you into them. As a matter of fact, you would be highly offended if I tried. You can make your own meals, do your own chores and read your own books. You’re okay being on your own sometimes, and in fact prefer that occasionally. Your hands have grown more and more competent as you learn day by day who you are and what you want.
Those hands can hold an instrument, steer a bike, and write your own stories. They help people who need it, rise up high in praise, and wipe away your own tears. They throw a ball, carry a child, and comfort a friend.
Part of me sits in this time and place and desperately misses those years when you needed my care.
Most of me, though—most of me is in awe of who you are becoming. I see your maturity, kindness, and independence. I see how you make connections with the world around you. I see your intelligence, your beauty and your wicked sense of humor. I see your need to go and do and be who God made you to be.
I see your tender heart that still needs her Mom.
So I’ll be here. Even as you take those leaps away, trying new things, experimenting with who you want to be, and taking this crazy world in, my hands are still here for you. I’m here to grab ahold of any time. When you are confused about why people act the way they do. When you are heartbroken by others’ words and actions. When you feel fear about the world we live in or the changes you are going through.
I’ll wave you off when you need to go with a smile and misty eyes, but I’ll still be here when you are ready to come back.
My hands are here, my arms are open, and you will always have a home with me.