Saturday Morning Excerpt: The Hands of a Mother

“A few weeks ago, my baby gave me a flower. Never mind that he needed Daddy’s help to pick it, or that is was missing a few petals, or that he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to let it go. It was- and is- the most gorgeous flower ever given or received. Silver and gold wouldn’t buy it from me.

“Later, I pressed it into his baby book. I watched myself, a woman at her kitchen table flattening a wilted daffodil onto a page, and I was amazed. When in the past nine months of midnight nursings and teething and drooly kisses did I become a mother? For so long I saw my hands as the hands of a working woman on her own, hands making a living. Now I saw hands that have changed hundreds of diapers, washed and folded a thousand tiny socks and shirts, held a tiny, searching mouth to my breast late at night, held my baby dancing in the kitchen, and eased him down into sleep.

“Seeing those hands, I understood something that has been at the edge of my consciousness since I first took my son in my arms and inhaled his newborn smell. These aren’t just my hands anymore; they belong to a lineage of mothers a planet wide and a millennia old. I was a woman on an April evening in a kitchen in my corner of the world, catching time between the pages of a baby book, and at the same time, I was my mother, her mother, a mother, somewhere on another continent carefully tucking a flower into the pocket of her shirt, a flower you couldn’t buy from her with silver or gold. We don’t know each other, but all over the world and all through time, we’re gathering up wilted flowers and misspelled love notes, and every single one of us knows the fierce, singular ache that’s love and pride and sadness all mixed into one.

“I thought I’d become a mother the day my baby was born. It isn’t so. Mothers join the ranks slowly, gradually, one caress, one diaper, one feeding at a time. And then one day we look down, and there they are: the hands of a mother, gently, and with enormous strength doing the most important work on earth.”

-Laura, remembering 2008.

-From The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Ed., La Leche League International. Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by dac on July 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

    It’s true. It’s always the same, and it’s always changing. The blessing is in treasuring the time that is now.


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