Saturday, 11 May 2013

My Mother's Hands

I have my mother's hands. I have all my life. Those five words have defined the part of my body I see the most, use the most, for as long as I can remember. They are not what are typically thought of as beautiful hands. They are not "elegant", nor do they have "long, slim fingers tipped with pale ovals of fingernail." I read that phrase once and it always stuck with me. For some reason I always imagine those hands playing piano effortlessly.

No, my hands are large. They are square. The fingers, though long enough, are not slim. The nails are round and flat and look terrible when I have tried to grow them long. I keep them short, rarely extending beyond the tips of my fingers. I do love to paint them, though, and I try to keep them nice. Just like my mother's.

My mother's hands are immensely strong, or at least they have always seemed so to me. We used to hold hands sometimes in the car and I would inevitably start the "interlocking fingers and squeezing" game of chicken. I always, always lost. I tried it again not too many years ago and learned, much to my chagrin and despite the fact that I am a good 6" taller than Mum and outweigh her by more that I like to think about, she is still significantly stronger than me.

My mother's hands are the hands I try to emulate when I make bread. It doesn't matter the videos I watch or the articles I read about kneading, I always end up moving the dough the way I remember her moving it. My mother's bread is amazing, and always has been. I think this is partly why I get such warm fuzzies when my house smells like bread.

My mother's hands made all my dance costumes, most Hallowe'en costumes, skating costumes and a good many pieces of clothing. She gets frustrated when she sews, but she certainly can do it. She is creative, though sometimes (rather like me) she doesn't see that.

My mother's hands cook. They cook effortlessly (or so it appears), they cook inventively and they cook amazingly. A lot of people will, when they make a recipe they had as a child, say to others "But it's not as good as my mom's." Believe me when I say I have a significantly higher peak to scale to reach that pinnacle than others. My parents instilled in me a love of - and interest in - good food that I share with my husband and hope to pass on to my children. I dream of one day making my mother's spaghetti carbonara and having it be "right." Someday. I hope.

I am proud of my hands. They may never feature in a magazine; they may never effortlessly play the piano; they may chap, and have hangnails and the nails may get dry and crack when I'm sewing a lot, but they are mine. They hold my children. They put the ring on my husband's hand. They make bread I am proud of. They sew, draw, dye, sand: they make the things I imagine come to reality. They were there to catch my daughter when she started walking. They clap when my son stands on the couch with his ukelele and serenades me. They are supportive, and gentle and strong. Just like my Mother's.

the day my son was born
Happy Mother's Day, Mum. I love you.

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