My Mother's Hands

6 years ago

I seem to spend a lot of time looking at my hands.

I see them out of my peripheral vision as they fly across the computer keys, but I really see them when I need to pause and think about my next words.

I rest them flatly on the keyboard when I am thinking.

And I look at my hands.

And I think about her hands.

My mother's hands.

Her hands are not tiny and delicate. She does not have neatly manicured nails.

My moms hands are rough. Soft, but rough with work.

They have spent countless hours in bleach and lysol and and dishwater.

They have pruned up while scrubbing baby fingers and toes.

She has cut and packaged steaks and burger and roasts that were destined for someone else's dinner plate.

She has folded countless loads of laundry and smoothed many sheets across beds.

They are the hands of someone who knows hard work.

Though our family is not full of hugs, she has never been stingy with loving touches. Her fingers would glide over my arm in church; her hand across my baby brother's tiny toddler back while he watched TV; her palms would cup my younger brother's small hand while she read him a story.

Those hands held the books that incited my love affair with words. They pulled and brushed my straight, blond hair into pony tails. They picked up fuzzies and hairs off my shirts to keep me looking just right.

Her blunt fingers strung needles and bobbins that made clothes for my dolls and the blankie I slept with each night.

She has wrinkley, thin hands.

They are not pretty.

They are beautiful.

My own hands rest on my computer keys.

The nails are short because longer nails click funny on my keyboard.

My knuckles are wrinkled and the veins are visible on the palms and tops of my hands, and small lines are beginning to etch themselves permanent homes everywhere.

Like my mom, there is a permanent indention where I wear my wedding band. The difference is that hers is so much deeper, much more ... there. Mine is still a beginning.

They have washed dishes for other people.

They have handled hot parts off a paint line.

They have smoothed paper and photographs into countless albums.

They have flipped through countless essays and tests and quizzes and journal entries.

And there on my right middle finger is the large callous made by many years of pen to paper.

Now those hands aren't wielding highlighters or pens or pencils. Not as often.

More frequently they run across computer keys.

But they also bathe baby limbs...

and scrub floors...

and put toys back in their temporary put away position...

and wipe and wipe and wipe and wipe and wipe...

and trace the outline of a little boy's face while he sleeps.

They are not pretty...

but they are my mother's hands.

Katie Sluiter writes about life as a working mom at Sluiter Nation, writes creatively at Exploded Moments, and reviews books at Katie's Bookcase

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