Two topics are at my blogging fingertips today. They are seemingly unrelated, but I swear I’m going somewhere with this.
- Becoming a mother makes you completely immune to things that others find inexcusably disgusting.
- My grandmother has great hands.
Let’s start with the obvious: motherhood exposes you to lots and lots of bodily fluids that you otherwise wouldn’t touch with a thousand-foot pole. It really begins in the days before childbirth, when you’re on the lookout for the artfully-named mucus plug to make an appearance. This should signal that things are progressing and that labor is coming any day. What is really signifies is that the protective armor against repulsive things has a crack in it. Because really — why would anyone be excited about seeing a huge glob of mucus? Nobody, that’s who.
My weakness used to be snot. I wasn’t impressed with my own, but I was REALLY skeeved out by other people’s. I would wretch at the first moment someone near me was even thinking about hocking a loogie. And in all fairness, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Now I pick Grady’s boogers with nonchalance. I’ll pin him down and shove my finger right up his schnoz if it means he’ll breathe better when I’m done. I am the booger master.
Last week I realized my transformation was complete. I had not one, but TWO different poops on my Easter pants and neither one was mine. I mean, I’m thankful that neither was mine, because then I’d have a bigger issue on my hands. But the point is that two different creatures (one human, one canine) left poop on my dress pants and I didn’t flinch. Give me hip waders and a gas mask — I’m ready for anything.
Which brings me to the subject of my grandmother and her hands. I have always had a thing for hands. You can tell a lot about a person from their hands. Callouses or wrinkles, strength or delicacy–it’s all there in the hands, no matter what the rest of the person looks like. I’ve admired my grandmother’s hands for awhile now. It’s an odd thing to say to someone, e.g. “I know your elderly hands have wrinkles and arthritis and liver spots, but gee they’re kinda awesome.” So I didn’t say it. Then, this fall, she had a big health scare. Happily she’s much better now, but back then I wanted to tell her how I felt while I still could. Because it’s not so much the aesthetics of someone’s hands, it’s what they have done. What they can still do.
Diddy grew up on a farm, and went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. There were ten kids in her school and no heat. I swear I’m not making this up. The teacher made the kids take turns bringing in firewood all winter, even the littlest ones. She was hard at it from day one.
Then she had seven children in ten years at a time when there were no disposable diapers or plastic bottles. Everything had to be boiled, steamed, hung out on a line, or damn near beaten on a rock to get clean. No microwaves, no shortcuts, and no money. Her hands have DONE things. Sometimes over and over on mind-numbing tasks, but it was all to keep the family running — fed, clothed, cleaned, and probably disciplined (or so I’ve heard). She didn’t need hip waders to do these things, she just dove in.
The day of her health scare in the ER, I saw my opening as I helped her navigate a can of ginger ale.
“You know what, Diddy? I’ve always liked your hands.”
“These hands? They’re hard-working hands.”
“I know. That’s why I like them.”
I’m sure she doesn’t recall that conversation, and that’s okay. Her hands and what they did are the point. If my hands grow arthritic, veiny, and knobby, then it will be a source of pride. It will mean that I used them well to take good care of my family. Boogers and all. That’s worth way more than a pair of pink hip waders, right?