Last night, we walked to the Christmas tree lighting in our small town. It was warm for this time of year at 57 degrees and it felt strange to be walking with no gloves on. My husband pushed our little girl in her stroller and I held my son’s hand as we walked over. The streets were so crowded and it was hard to move, which is not the experience I’m used to having here, and so I held my son’s hand when I normally would allow him to walk freely, untethered by my hand. We finally reached the diamond and got there just in time to count down as the tree was lit. My son let go of my hand and my husband boosted him onto his shoulders. On my husband’s shoulders, high above the crowd, the streetlights, brought in just for the occasion to illuminate the ice sculptures, cast a glow on his face, and the whites of his teeth glimmered in the light as he smiled.
On the way home, he held my hand until the crowd died down back on our side of town. The streets were quiet, but dark, and I kept reaching for his hand. He ran back and forth, from tree to tree, stopping to lie down in the mulch bed of the old library, as he played a game of hide and seek. We obviously could see where he was the entire time, but we made a game of it on the way home anyway because he was having so much fun. When we got closer to our house, I reached for his hand, and I was met with a “Mama…” He wanted to run and play, and while I understood, selfishly, I wanted to hold his hand for just a bit longer.
His hand still fits perfectly into mine, but I did take notice of his hands and how they are growing—just like the rest of him—and I wonder how much longer he will hold my hand at all. I know its end isn’t imminent; however, I also know that someday, he will hold another girl’s hand, and her hand will likely feel the way mine does when my husband’s large hand holds my own.
As we approached our house, I thought over all of this. He didn’t know, of course, as we were zig zagging on the sidewalks, laughing as we tried not to get too dizzy. Even as I smiled and laughed with him, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about the hand holding and how he’s growing. We got to our home, lit up by the porch lights, and walked up the steps to our front door. He bolted up them, quickly and without falling, of course, and in my mind, I said, he’s six, remember? But I also remembered when we moved here three years ago and the stairs were too steep for him to climb without holding my hand. There are countless examples just like this one.
The irony of all of this came around 2:00 a.m. this morning when he crawled into bed with us. I had just been in with his sister, holding her in her cream chair, and I was looking forward to stretching out and getting some rest in my own bed. But, since my son doesn’t do this often, when he does, we allow him to snuggle in between us and we all drift back to sleep. As he crawled in and got comfortable next to me, he whispered, “Mama, will you hold my hand?” I quickly obliged and just like that, I had his small hand in my own, again, for the time being. And we drifted off to sleep, with me holding his small hand in my own.