On having man hands

by arianne

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“I’m bleeding mommy. I hammered my hand.”

I realized this weekend that my boys are getting man-hands.

He had me examine the tiny wound, rather unimpressed with it himself but, hey, there was blood, so we checked him over for anything to fret over. But that’s when I noticed it.

His hands are rough and calloused and nails bitten down as far as possible and seems as though they’re way older than 8 year old hands. And next I ask my 10 year old to come, show mama your hands, and he did. Amidst the eye-roll and the huff he brandished yet another pair of man-hands.

And I can’t even blame it on video gaming because they hardly do that, these callouses come from something else. I don’t think they’re out working the coal mine or laying railroad tracks, but the level of rough skin and dirt under their nails would imply otherwise.

I lingered there with them just a tad, wishing to hold the two hands of my two old-man boys a bit longer. They fidgeted but stood still and the whole world paused for a moment.

I looked at the lines in their hands and remembered which ones were there since birth, those that were drawn in the womb, somehow all the memories of their tiny hands came back to me and I thought of how many times I’d held and kissed those tiny hands, and how that doesn’t happen all that much anymore. The boys, they get older and bigger and with all the wild warrior calls they don’t really need a kiss on the hand to feel better anymore.

The skin feels too rough to kiss anymore but I do it anyway and they smile little boy smiles and giggle and ask me what’s wrong. Am I sick? Am I sad? Why am I kissing their hands?

We talk of time and how it’s rushing and they say not fast enough mom (my 8 year old wants to call me mom now) and the evidence of this, they say, is Christmas still being over two months away and I give them love by punching them in the shoulder (gently, like a good mom does) and tell them they can’t hit me back because I’m a girl. And they smirk and try to tackle me instead.

And time stands still again.

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