Growing up I remember admiring my mother's hands. They were tiny, like mine, with perfectly oval shaped nails because she was a grown up and got to grow her nails out long. Good strong competent hands for ones so tiny. Hands that were covered in chalk dust from teaching all day. Hands that could knead the most delicious bread ever. Hands that taught my hands how to knead that same bread. Hands that smoothed hair back from my feverish forehead, hands that held me while I cried over a boy. Hands that could both tickle and discipline. Hands that held a household together while my dad traveled for long distances and times for his work. Hands that made magic at Christmastime. Hands that coaxed amazing smells and flavors from the kitchen. Hands that held my brother and I as we played "motor boat motor boat" in the pool during the summer. Hands that rocked us as babies. Hands that held mine crossing streets. Hands that know to bring me hot and sour soup and Hi-C juice boxes when I am sick. Hands that smoothed back my hair before I walked down the aisle to become a wife. Hands that held mine when I was in labor. Hands I've trusted implicitly with my dearest and most valuable treasure, my daughter. They are beautiful, these hands, and I rely on them so much still.
Tuesday the daycare called to let me know that Evie had a fever of 102.7 and I needed to come get her. Instantly I felt like all the breath was gone from my body. It's not a big deal in the long run; really it's just a rite of passage of working motherhood. It was the first time it had happened to me, and although I calmly went about, informing my boss I was leaving, calling my husband and calling the pediatrician there was a slight hum of panic running underneath it all. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until I hung up the phone with my husband and felt... unfinished. I couldn't call my mom to tell her, which would have been my next move, to ask for her reassurance and understanding. She and my father are out of the country with no cell service and no phone in their hotel room. Since the day I found out I was pregnant my mom has been there to reassure, support and help. She's been the competent one when I couldn't move after surgery and the exhausted one when I desperately needed some sleep. This not being able to talk to her thing was new and I can't say that I liked it.
Later as I was driving to CVS to pick up Evie's anti-biotic I realized what has been true for months now, I am a mother now. I am the one who will hold Evie's world together.
In that moment I understood I now had my own set of mother's hands. Hands full with responsibility. Hands that have the burden of being both strong and soft. Hands that will just know what Evie needs when she's sick. Hands to hold while she walks. Hands that will show her hands to cook. Hands to push damp sweaty curls off of her neck when she's feverish. Hands that will teach her how to have mother's hands; the same way my mother's hands taught mine.