I remember when my children were newborns, they used to grasp my finger when I laid it in their tiny palms. A tight little grasp that seemed to say, “This is what I need. I want you here with me, and I’m not letting go.” I know it wasn’t cognitive; it was a reflex. A sign of normal brain functioning that slowly disappeared as they matured.
Though the reflex faded, the hand-holding didn’t. I continued to put my hand in theirs every opportunity I could. Maybe I was still checking to see if the reflex was still there. In some way, I think it was. You put your hand into a child’s hand and they can’t seem to help holding it back.
I held my kids’ hands when I bounced them on my lap, when they took their first steps, and when we toddled around the yard. I held their hands during doctor appointments, going to various classes, and meeting new people. I even held their hands when they didn’t need to be held. Like when they’d ride on my back in the soft carrier and I’d criss-cross my arms to grasp their little hands around my sides. Or when we were just sitting next to each other on the couch reading or watching a movie, or sometimes when we’d sit across from each other in a restaurant. There was never a time when I didn’t enjoy having their hands in mine.
Over the years and in a variety of situations, I have held my children’s hands gently, safely, respectfully, kindly, lovingly, firmly, and habitually.
Above all, purposefully. A mother’s touch provides children with an instant sense of belonging. Our embraces say, “You are here with me, and this is exactly where you belong.”
Most recently, I held my kids’ hands as we navigated the parks at Disney World. In these busy parks, I never worried about where they were or that they might run off and disappear into the sea of bodies that filled park walkways. Because my kids never stopped seeking my hands. My hand-hold with each of them was their point of security in an extremely stimulating, constantly noisy, constantly busy environment. My hand, as it always has been, was their connection to safety. It was where they belonged, and it was where they wanted to be. Walking hand in hand.