Her little hands…

It’s her little hands. They just amaze me. To be honest, I love her little neck the most; there’s nothing quite like a little baby neck, is there? The way it smells, and the tiny-ness of it.
My first granddaughter, Josie has changed my whole life.

Once upon a time, I was the kind of momma that couldn’t share my babies well because I couldn’t stand to miss a moment. They were my whole world, one at a time and collectively. The way they smelled, the way they chattered and hugged me and held my hand. I just simply couldn’t get enough. And I honestly thought that I’d never feel that again.

But, I do love that much again, and it’s amplified because while I get to love her so so much — this time it’s absent of my responsibility. I don’t stare at her and hope we will be able to afford all she needs or wonder if I’m doing it all the right way. I just simply get to love her and make her laugh. And remain in awe of the amazing parenting I see in my daughter and realize I had a part in that.
Okay, before this sounds like this is all about me, I’ll get back to my point.

Her little hands.
When I was the momma, I somehow missed what I’m about to share. Perhaps it was the constant need of me that caused a zombie-like state, but back then I just didn’t have the perspective to notice their little hands.

Josie’s little hands began by being her own worst enemy. When she was born we had to protect her from them as they operated as if by some strange masochistic remote control and scratched her own face and eyeballs to the point of tears. Tiny, beautiful, delicate, claw-like hands whose only capability was to hold the finger of someone she loved.
As she grew, we became amazed when her eyes would connect with something and her little brain told her hands to reach toward it! You could practically see the wheels spinning in that little mind as she so vaguely realized that she could control the tiniest bit of her world.
It wasn’t long until she realized those little hands could effectively be a vehicle for bites of yum to get to her face. How handy!

Today, at 16 precious months, she can do a myriad of things with those beauties. She can rip apart Easter window clings in no time flat! She can almost open a child-proof baby gate! She can color on a wall quite brilliantly! She can oh-so-gently stroke her Momma’s face to show so much love that just waited all this time to come out. She can reach for my hand when a step is coming, knowing she needs a little help. She can finally pet Lily the dog (her partner in crime) quite lovingly and then drop her all of the good food that was supposed to be her dinner.

How she’s grown and changed! From hands that hurt to hands that share and love and create.

Makes me wonder about the power my hands have. I have had these same hands within my control for decades and though they are looking a bit tired these days, they serve me quite well.
They have loved and served and swatted and written words and made music and held and soothed and nourished and wiped many a tear, both my own and others’.

I think back to my parents’ hands. I know exactly what they look like even after all these years absent. I remember wanting so badly to hold my daddy’s hand, but it wasn’t very available. Though I knew both of their hands well and though they were hands that worked hard to provide me with food and a place in which to live, they weren’t hands of love.

I have certainly experienced hands of love, however. My father-in-law once grabbed my hand safely in his when we arrived at his home far from ours. He held it all the way from our vehicle to his door and called me “Sweetheart.” Still makes me cry.

I sat in a hospital room with a very ill husband and my mother-in-law wiped my tears and held me close.
Those are hands of love.

A beautiful woman I know hugged me once when I was dealing with one of the heaviest issues of my heart and her hands were like the very hands of Jesus — healing my heart-wounds.

A friend of my heart held my hand in the back row at the funeral of one I recently loved dearly. And another friend provided both my children and me food in a desperate time of need. You just cannot put a value to that kind of love.

My sweet man and his hands have literally ministered to my heart and rubbed away stress-pain and held mine through moments of trauma and sheer joy. His hands were the first love-hands I ever knew.

The hands of my babies, though stretched out some, have never changed. Except now, they serve me and reach for me and see me and validate me.

It’s a circle too beautiful for words.

We hold so much power within these tools at the end of our arms. It’s an awareness, isn’t it?

How to use them to love.
How to leave an imprint that matters.

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Little Did We Know

It’s no secret that I’m vertically challenged.  Condensed awesomeness?   Fun-sized?  Yeah.  I’ve heard ’em all.  Being short means that I forget to clean the top of the refrigerator, and that the back of all of my pants drag on the floor.  Being little also means that I have a hard time keeping up with just about everyone when we walk together, and that I became the favorite measuring stick against which all of my own children and, well, every child I’ve ever known has measured themselves to show their newfound pubescent height.  “Oh, look!  We’re taller than Alison!”  I don’t bother to tell them that getting taller than me wasn’t exactly a great accomplishment.  Go ahead.  Use me.  I can make just about anybody feel tall.

Being small also makes people think I’m younger than I am.  I can’t even begin to tell you the people I’ve left with their jaws on the floor  when they are told that my children are not my siblings, but my offspring.   Until these sparkly hairs conquer and take over my entire head, I think I’ll just always look like some strange, sorta-wrinkly kid.

I don’t mind, really.  It’s pretty funny and amusing.  Until someone doesn’t take me seriously.  “Ohhhh…you’re the MOTHER of the bride!?”  And THEN, they decide to treat me like I’m the one writing the check.

Recently, we toured a house that we would like to make our home.  The folks currently residing there have 18 grandchildren and the accoutrements of said grandchildren are evidenced everywhere.  Giant teddy bears and strollers and playground equipment built lovingly by a grandpa abound at this house.  A picture wall was full of smiling school pictures and families posing.  In the center was a wedding picture that grabbed my heart in two seconds flat.  No cheesy grins, no Pinterest posing here.  In sepia tones, two people age twenty-ish stared deeply into each other’s eyes.  She with a lacy veil straight from the sixties and he, replete with full, thick sideburns.  With foreheads touching and the two of them in mid-conversation, they looked like they didn’t even know a camera was nearby.  And they looked smitten.  Lost in each other.

Now, all of these years later, she has scary, smiling dolls posing on built-in dining rooms shelves, and he some health problems, and they find themselves down-sizing.

I found myself wondering what those two would tell the younger, newlywed version of themselves if they were able to go back and give them advice.

As we drove a full day back to our current home in deepest thought, contemplating our upcoming decisions regarding uprooting our family to replant roots far from here, I thought about bright-eyed, preciously ignorant Christian and Alison from over twenty years ago and wondered what advice I’d want to give them. A&C Knowing now what they didn’t know then, I think I would just want to reassure them that everything was going to be okay.  Seeing the storms yet ahead on their horizon, I would want them to settle deeply into the comfort that they would be held, throughout.  I would encourage them to run to each other first and stay in that safe place of hands joined, hearts united, and spirits tuned in to their Creator.  I would tell them that though there were rough patches, even with their precious children, that the love poured out would return and overflow in just a matter of time.  Every single bit of love was worth it–even, and especially, when it was hardest to show.

Through the lean years (and boy, were there lean years) when we stared at each other wondering if we could even make it, to the career changes, to the house buying and selling and building, and now to the dreaming and planning for our future, we have trusted One.  And He has been so very faithful.

So, now, as we pack up a lifetime of local memories and look ahead to what is unfamiliar and a bit daunting, I hear old, creaky-boned Alison telling forty year old me that these new sparkly hairs, these new softer areas in my middle, these worries about what tomorrow looks like…none of these things will matter when all is said and done.

Someday, when my grown children kiss my wrinkled cheek and tuck my blanket around me and it is their turn to make me food that I like, I want them to be thankful for my presence.  I want for their stories of me to ring of laughs and silliness, of adventures and fun–of a consistently safe place in these tired arms.

This perspective, it’s reminding me today to face my future bravely and with my chin up.  These are the good days.  These are the good decisions that will make a way, clear a path, for those who come behind to be brave and face as well.

It’s how we will have measured our growth.