“Holding Her Hand”

This essay published on Coffee & Crumbs is served up with a little humility. The editor had a lot of suggestions and cuts to the original essay. At first, I bristled. It’s hard to take suggestions, especially from someone you don’t know (self: squirrel that one away for implications in teaching and learning). BUT ultimately, I think she made “Holding Her Hand” stronger.

I love this genre of essay. I’m not sure what it’s called. I think of it as a collection of snapshots–little scenes that are unified around a whole. That’s how memory works for me, anyway. Not a neat and tidy narrative but a smattering of sensory images. I like revisiting them.

When I was a few months away from giving birth to baby number two, we decided we had to get Mae out of our bed. At first, we put the crib beside the bed and I would fall asleep holding Mae’s hand through the bars.

But then we moved her into the next room.

My fingers and wrist fit comfortably through the bars of a crib, but when Mae continued to cry, I had to rub her back or pat her softly. Night after night I held firm: I will sing to you, pat your back, shove both my arms through the bars to encircle you, but I won’t take you out of your bed.

The nights were interminable; after the singing and the patting and many firm Lay down, Maes, each night settled down to this—me, sitting in the dark, humming softly, holding my daughter’s hand as she drifted off and her world slowly shifted underneath her.

***

Walking next to a preschooler on a sunny day, as her downy blonde hair surrounds her head like a halo, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. She chatters constantly, words and songs trickling out of her mouth as quickly as they enter her head. You need only shorten your stride and slow your pace a little, because she bounces along at a cheerful pace. You hold hands companionably, pausing every now and then to explore a crack in the sidewalk or navigate an oncoming walker. She’s buoyant. She’s bouncy. She’s eager. She’s curious. She’s delightful. And as you look at her upturned face and feel the way her little hand fits so completely in your palm, your heart wells. She’s yours and you love her.

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