I looked down yesterday while making my son's bed and saw something beautiful... my mother's hands. I have my mother's hands. Not the hands she's struggling with right now that are succumbing to arthritis (although I suspect that is soon to follow)... but the hands I remember as a child. They're not perfect, not smooth, not hand-model hands... but they're the hands I remember. Strong. Fingers thin from hard work. Short nails. Tough. Tough like my mom.
These are the hands that tied a million bows in our hair for gymnastics, drill team, cheer leading and school. These hands made my bed in the morning until they taught me to do it. These are the hands that braided my hair into "Heidi braids" in the morning, made dinner at night, packed lunches at midnight and drove for miles because she was a single mom, living on barely any sleep and driving us 30-35 minutes to school so we could go to school in the same town she worked. These hands didn't care about if they were moisturized or manicured or smooth... they dug in the sand with us to find shells, pitched baseballs, helped bait hooks and reel in fish, did our cheer routines with us, played board games with us, sewed costumes, and clapped almost as loud as that awesome voice of hers that was audible in ANY crowd. These hands cleaned up after us when we were sick, picked me up after a horrific roller skating fall when I was 8 (and a rollerblading one when I was 20... but that's another story) and that held me up when girls bullied me, boyfriends broke up with me and that helped me pack for the 900 mile trip to Oregon, from which I never returned and FOR which she's never forgiven me (love you mom).
Some women may freak out when told they look like their mothers. Not me. I think my mom is beautiful, inside and out. She may be loud, crazy, moody and seriously tough... but she's also passionate, dedicated, self-sacrificing and so, so much fun. So when I saw my obviously aging hands, starting to go tough from the park play dates, baseball, sewing, Play-Doh, dishes, knitting, etc. I was fascinated and proud. Save for the skin color, they are my mom's. And as my kids pointed out that you can see the veins in my hands, I wasn't sad, I was proud. They are like the rest of me... my face, my figure, my joints. They show what I've done. What I'm still doing.
A young girl I once worked with asked me once if I was considering plastic surgery since I was in my 30's and if I was sad to be "having kids so old" because I was a horrifying (and decrepit apparently in her view) 32 when I had my son and 35 with my daughter. I try not to judge as I know we all take different paths in life, but it was hard to hide the disgust on my face. Even if you want plastic surgery, it's a bit insulting to ask me if I'm considering it. I told her "no way". I will age as I age. I will take every wrinkle, spot, bend and creak as it comes. I'll be like my mom and work out like a nut and suddenly become totally ripped in my 40's and 50's. I'll do crazy military-obstacle-course runs like her. I'll still attempt to do high kicks in the living room because my daughter is doing them.
My Opa once said, when I asked why he liked to paint pictures of old people, "Their faces tell stories. Young faces have no stories yet."
I hope my kids remember my hands and think they tell a beautiful story. I hope I use them to dig in the mud, build Star Wars ships out of Lego's, soothe hurts, wash off dirt, cook lots of meals, pitch baseballs, braid hair and sew costumes until 2:00 am. I hope my story is of a mom who's as fun and loving as she is nuts. And I hope that, on a bad day, when I think I'm not good at this job, I can look down at my hands and feel better because they are beautiful. They're my mom's.