Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Mother's Fingers

A mother's fingers start the day gently pushing blond wispy hair from her child's closed eyes. They reach up under a fleecy pajama shirt to rub a warm sleepy back trying to ease the morning into drowsy skin.

A mother's fingers deftly work stuck buttons into tight holes and they squeeze together quickly as a reminder that the child's fingers need to do the work on a coat zipper (even when those fingers are late for work).

Those digits on a mama's hand clasp the seatbelt buckle and secure the strap tight across her child's chest. And before they pull away, they pause, ever so slightly, to cup the irresistible round cheek of that five-year-old.

On the way to school, pointer digits tap in time to Taylor Swift's newest song and occasionally help the rest of the hand turn into an imaginary microphone. 

Those same fingers grip the steering wheel tightly, white-knuckling it, as mama's chatty daughter recounts a sad story of mean kids and disappointments. They comb through mama's hair and stroke her chin as she tries to find the right words, soothing words, soul-building words that will linger with that little girl all day, all week, and for a lifetime. 

Crossing the street, mama's fingers itch to reach out and hold the hand of the fiercely independent pint-sized powerhouse. Instead, they discreetly snag a backpack strap but ache for the days of infant death-hold finger-grasps.

Fingers can be quite impatient especially on a mother vacillating between doing-it-herself because she's late and the knowledge of the child's need to unpack at her locker all-by-herself. They intertwine with each other and flex and pulse. They listen as she exasperatedly sighs and help to punctuate her agitation with the distracted kindergartener by rubbing her forehead hard. But in the end, they soften and gently take hold of the angel-girl's shoulders. They clutch her tiny back in a fierce goodbye-see-you-later hug.

At this time of day, it seems that mama's fingers go to sleep. They become the property of a working woman. They move through the work day holding pens, passing papers, patting backs, opening doors, tying shoes, sticking band-aids, clicking on keys, reassuring, waving, and pointing.

But mama calls them back again in the late afternoon when their family is back together. They shake off the dirt and unclench from the disappointments of the day. The meanspiritedness of, say, a friend is forgotten and so those fingers no longer find themselves chewed upon. As her daughter chats away about the day's events, they fiddle with her barrette.  Fingers are amazing math instruments and become 'fifteen' when one hand rests along side of two tiny finger-splayed hands at homework time. They pretend they belong to Rachel Ray when chopping, stirring and whipping up a tasty dinner. They wrinkle and prune and make a bevy of beautiful mermaid-princesses at bathtime. Afterward, those grateful fingers soak up the warmth that radiates through the fluffy towel at drying-off-time and they can't wait to turn the pages of their favorite book right before bed. 

At the end of the day, those fingers are so grateful to be running through that blond hair again. They pull the covers up under that cute little yawning jaw. Happily, they are quite often taken and held by the daughter's tiny fingers, the ones they had longed to hold earlier in the day. The mama smiles and uses her thumb to trace the outer edges of each of the child's fingers moving in time to the mother's lullaby.

At last, after that mama uses those fingers to lock doors, shut off lights,  and brush her teeth and hair, she climbs into bed and clasps those fingers in prayer thanking the universe for the chance to be the mother of this daughter.

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