These hands have dug in fresh soil and planted tiny seeds. They have watered thirsty seedlings, weakened by the sun and pulled weeds determined to steal their care. They have scrubbed bare feet that wiggled in freshly turned soil and crusted in dry earth and chipped nail polish.
These hands have snipped fresh herbs from the garden because there is magic in them. They picked out ingredients in the grocery store. They’ve washed and chopped and seasoned to taste . . . They’ve crafted a meal laced with love and a little booze. My sons ate their food in silent tribute without a moment to savor the flavors these hands carefully balanced.
These hands have prepared needles and plunged them deep in flesh during seven IVF cycles to bring life to families I don’t see anymore. They have carefully measured and filled hormones in oil and given self administered scar tissue and knots under flesh that wasn’t prepared to house the medications that forced a life where there wasn’t one.
These hands have cradled a growing womb, caressing and loving children that were loved profoundly from the moment their existence was known. They have tapped back at kicking limbs and pushed back on rolling turns as a growing child sought comfort in confined spaces.
These hands have changed diapers that painted on canvases of infant backs and ruined onesies with mustard consistency. They have caught vomit before the projectile ruined furniture. They have burped babies that couldn’t do it on their own with a spit up payment of spoiled milk. They have spoon fed baby food and fought exploring tongues that pushed their food out instead of helping them swallow it down. These hands have cooled burning flesh in cooled bath water while being covered in the smell of sickness breathed out by weak children like dragon’s fire.
These hands have held children close to my heart, in unconditional love and loving abandon. They have rocked them to sleep and brushed their hair with gentle back scratches. They have held open books as voices were changed between characters. They have held little hands and taught them how to knead dough that’s baked into the sweet aromas of yeast and sugar. They have taken pictures of children singing and laughing and learning through exploration. They have felt the soft and tender flesh of a newborn.
These hands have written love letters and careful explications. They have used pen and pencil, keyboards, and crayons to tell the secrets of my heart. They have erased and backspaced and scrapped the old to make room for something new. They have filled out applications and completed documentation because autism moms have to paper tiger through life.
These hands have held other hands. They have found solace in connection and traced the lines of faces meant to be memorized visually, and tactilely. They have rested on firm chests with racing hearts. They have tickled and teased through hair and on dampened skin, sticky with the wonders of a life in motion. They have felt the sensations of pleasure I’ve known in the touch of another and they have granted sensory joy in careful exploration.
These hands can use a hammer and drill. They have dug holes and laid new plumbing. They have repaired electrical outlets. They have replaced vanities and changed tires. They have picked up dead animals and nurtured small ones to health. They have scrubbed floors on hands and knees and washed dishes that no one ever notices. They scrub toilets and bathtubs and take the trash out. They carry large bags of dog food and cat food and bottled water because I don’t trust my pipes.
These hands have been manicured and cared for. They have been dried out by frequent washing in scalding water. They have been massaged and neglected. They have known callouses from the uneven bars in gymnastics, and weights, and garden tools with yard work and bare hands. My knuckles have known the sting of flesh punched off of bony fingers. They have healed into hardened scabs that eventually lost all memory of their trauma. They have soothed me when stressed by picking at scabs or with bitten nails, and picked at cuticles. These hands are sensitive. These hands are mine.