There is a picture of my mother that I keep that makes me smile every time I look at it. In it my mom, looking harassed and tired but smiling slightly, is carrying my older brother out of the kitchen, hands under his armpits as his feet dangle between his legs and he laughs gleefully.
Before today this picture made me smile for none other than the simple fact that it was one of the few pictures of my mother I have in my possession. Now however, I smile for a different reason.
I smile because I have my mother’s hands.
Hands that carry small children from rooms they don’t belong, that wipe endlessly runny noses, that clean up messes constantly, and take things out of Baby L’s mouth that she shouldn’t be chewing on.
Just yesterday I carried my girl the very same way for what seemed like the 100th time and I had to pause for a second breathe deeply in order to collect myself and not get angry with her. Because why can’t she just stay where I put her? Why must I chase her around the house over and over again?
We all hear the saying that when we have our own children we will reap the reward, or frustration, we sowed to our mothers in childhood. And we are more than familiar with the shocking inevitable moment that we open our mouths t say something to our spouses or children and our mother’s voice comes from our lips. Saying things we swore we would never say when we were children. Because why can’t our mothers be more patient? More gentle? More understanding?
I have had these moments over and over again recently, and every time I realize what is happening to me I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it. But now, now I am faced with the undeniable fact that I also have my mothers hands.
Hands that would do anything to protect my babe.
Hands that get dirty on a daily basis scrubbing this or that, cooking this or that, and folding piles of laundry that will simply get knocked over again in 1.5 seconds.
Hands that cover my face to hide my exasperation, my tears, my exhaustion.
Hands that cover my belly, where even now, a baby is growing and coming together. Knit inside my womb by God himself. Soon to join the fray as a new member of our sometimes hectic household.
Hands that fold in prayers for strength and patience to face the day when I just don’t think I can go on doing this mothering thing for one more minute.
I used to swear to myself that I would never be like my mother. She hurt me too much. Left scars on my heart that threaten to rip open and reveal pain that was never fully healed by time.
I would swear that I would do anything I could to avoid falling into the same traps as her.
But now, as I type these words, and I am faced with the simple fact that being like her in a million little ways is simply unavoidable, I rejoice and I smile. I love that I have my mother’s hands. Because for all her faults; when my mother would use her hands to wrap me in a tight hug, to smooth my hair away from my face, to hold books and read to me stories I had heard a thousand times before, I never doubted that she loved me.
We can do all that we can to avoid making the mistakes of our parents. Its a noble pursuit. One that every mother and father takes on in an effort to make life better for their children than it was for them. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. And sometimes, we open our mouths to speak to our children and echoes of our parent’s words to us emerge from our very own lips. And sometimes that’s okay.
I Have My Mother’s Hands, they hold tightly to the ones I love in ways I never thought possible, and they make me smile.