4am and I am downstairs with an overactive toddler on top of me. As I try to convince her to let me snooze on the sofa, she tries to convince me to read just one more book. As the hard and cold board book is shoved in my face I look down and see my mother’s hands as they delicately open the book and pull the toddler onto their lap.
My mother’s hands. These hands have given love beyond all measure.
They have wiped snot from sore noses. As the face attached to that nose squeals and twists away, making things harder and the quick job a long one.
They have tapped out a beat on the steering wheel as the voice has sung along to the radio. Driving the child wherever she needs to be this time.
They have rocked and stroked to sleep. The daughter who couldn’t settle without her mother there and then later, the grandchild who needed someone to soothe her while her mother had a moment’s rest.
They have patted the baby’s back. Mimicking the mother’s heartbeat in the womb they have continued to provide safety and security in the unpredictable and so much scarier “real” world.
They have held back hair. As the head leaned over the bucket or toilet the mother’s hands held back the hair and soothed the child. Sickness bugs received the same care and sympathy as the alcohol induced moments in the teenage years.
They have applied lipstick. On the wedding day, when hands were quivering and tears were rolling the mother’s hands calmly applied the pink gloss and sent the daughter to her happy ever after.
They have squeezed and stroked and held me with joy. They have clapped and covered gasping mouths. They have taken the grandchild into their arms as she entered their heart.
As I look down once again at these hands, my mother’s hands, I realise they are my hands.
The long fingers are paler than I remember, less plump and seem more aged. The palms are lined with tales of love and laughter and I am sure that a clairvoyant would see happiness in their future.
I am awash with a sense of both gratitude and pride.
My mother’s hands have held me up when all was falling around me, and I couldn’t be prouder that my hands are set to do the same for my daughter.