Once a upon a time, a boy held a girl’s hand.
There are many places I could begin Cort and my story, but that is one of my favorite beginnings.
His holding my hand when I needed him.
With no romantic attachments. No expectations. No ulterior motives.
He held my hand because he knew in that moment that I needed my hand held.
His thumb gently rubbing the top of my hand. Softly and slowly. Reassuringly.
This would be the way he held my hand from then on. He may not remember, but I do. When he proposed, he took my hand and his thumb started moving as he asked me that all-important question. On our wedding day, when the pastor instructed us to hold hands, his thumbs moved deftly over my the backs of my hands. Every night as we fall asleep, our hands entwined, I know he is drifting off when his thumb becomes still.
When Eddie was born, I looked forward to his little hands. I would dream of holding my son’s hands as he learned to stand, and walk, and as we crossed the street.
His hands were big for a newborn. You know how large dog breeds will have puppies with HUGE paws and you know the dog is going to be HUGE by they size of the paws? The whole, “well crap! just think when he grows into those!” idea? That is what everyone said when they caught a glimpse of Eddie’s hands.
In fact, Cort’s Grandpa Sluiter made the comment that Great Grandpa Edward (who Eddie is named after) had huge, powerful hands. He was a farmer and he made things with his hands. This made me smile.
I longed for my baby to grasp my finger in those “big” hands.
I had visited many friends after they had babies, and my favorite thing was to slip a finger in the palm of the infant and feel the reactionary squeeze.
This was not Eddie’s thing.
I would sneak my finger to Eddie’s palm and he would recoil his hand like he had touched something unpleasant. I thought it was just a phase, but it only got more noticeable the older he became.
He was…and is…fiercely independent even when he was just a few months old. When he discovered he had hands, I joyfully watched him concentrate on bringing them together in front of his face. I watched with pride as he slowly grabbed for the toys hanging from his activity mat. But when I would put my hands or fingers out for him to grab, he would ignore them and fuss until I gave him a toy to hold and explore.
As a toddler he had to be carried through parking lots and into stores. He simply would not hold our hands.
Even now, when he gets up from nap and joins me in our chair for some wake up cuddles, if I try to hold or stroke his hand he involuntarily pulls it in to himself. I can rub his leg or his arm or run my fingers through his hair, but the hands are off limits.
If his hand dares to rest on mine, it is short-lived and usually done unconsciously.
For three days and three nights Charlie and I melted into each other while I waited to be released from the hospital after his birth.
The first thing I did was put him right up to my face so I could absorb his new baby smell. Then I put my finger in his palm.
He grasped it. Tightly.
At feedings I would tuck my pinky into his hand while I held his bottle to his lips. His tight squeeze remained for the duration of the bottle, only letting go when I wiggled it out so I could pick him up to burp him.
He found his hands in the same way Eddie did: one day lying on his back, BOOM he realized he had hands.
It is one of my most favorite milestones because you can actually SEE the concentration and a-ha moment happen.
From that moment on, his favorite things to grasp are his own hands or one of our hands/fingers.
Oh, he will be entertained with a toy for a while…and a blanket or lovey for a bit longer. But what he wants is contact with us. When he gets tired, he wants to cling to something. That something is a hand.
The past few naps/nights I have scooped him up when he is getting fussy out of need to sleep and whisked him to his dim-lit room. I have turned the humidifier on to block out house noises, snapped his nightlight on, and cuddled into the chair.
He quickly calms.
His tired eyes stare widely into mine and both hands take hold of my hand on his chest.
I start to hum and rock as he struggles with wanting to stay awake and needing to surrender to sleep.
Slowly I take my hand out of his clutch and watch as his hands find each other.