Thursday, May 23, 2013

Painted Hands

For Mother's Day, I got painted handprints of both my boys. Matthew's came with a little questionnaire about me which was hilarious because it said, "My mom is pretty because she's a girl." Matthew was so excited to give it to me that it absolutely could not wait until Mother's Day. I got it the Thursday before. He'd drawn a picture of us on the back of the homemade envelope. We had legs and arms coming out of our heads. Our hands were clasped, holding one another's. There were a few scribbles on one of Matthew's legs. "Yook! It's us. We ah ho-ding hands. I have food on my yeg." He stuck to this story about food being on his leg when he showed the drawing to both his daddy and his brother. I'm still not entirely sure of the significance.

Garrett's gift was a big square piece of pink paper. His painted handprint had his kindergarten photo in the middle of it. Next to that hand was a poem.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm really not a crier. That's not to say that I don't enjoy a good sob every now and then, in the privacy of my own bedroom, and it's not to say that I don't have my moments of crying in front of people or losing it over a movie. It's just that these things happen more rarely than they seem to for your average, emotional girl. But as I read that poem I got choked up. I fought back tears and Garrett looked at me and said, "What's wrong?" thinking, I'm sure, that there was some enormous flaw in his gift.

I took both gifts down off the fridge today and put them away for safe keeping. I read that poem again and shed a tear or two on account of the thick lump that would not dislodge itself from my throat.

It doesn't have a poet listed so I cannot give credit where it is due. But you just tell me if this doesn't sum up motherhood.

Every day I am exploring
Touching everything I've found
I leave behind my little marks
And handprints all around

You clean up those handprints
But someday when I'm grown
You'll wish you had just one
Handprint to keep for your own

I made this handprint for you
So that one day when I am tall
You'll remember what my hand looked like
Long ago when I was small

So much of this parenting thing is teaching them how to go be adults. We get so excited when they walk and talk and sprint and read. We want them to make their own beds, brush their own teeth, get through elementary school, go to prom, get a good college education, get married and give us grandchildren. I clean up after my kids all day, every day. I pick up shoes. I clean up art supplies.

I wash away the smudges they leave on the walls.

And one day, in the not-so-distant future, they will be taller than me (fingers crossed) and all grown up. Life will be still where once it was perpetual motion. Walls will be clean where once they were filthy. Floors will be clean where once urine puddles sat at the base of my toilet. (What is it with boys?) And I will mourn my little men turned big ones like I mourn my babies turned little men. I want them to grow and change and mature and soar. That is the natural progression and desire of things.

Still, I am thankful for both of their tiny painted hands because I will miss these little fingers entwined in my own. I will miss my children.

But I will not miss the urine puddles. Because who in her right mind would?

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