A few years ago my sister-in-law and I went on a trip, when we returned, she mentioned how she missed her kids' fingers and toes. Although I had noticed my own children's and knew them to be important in growth and development, I had not stopped to think of how I missed them. I realized that in fact, this was the part of my children that I touched, soothed, held, and held me back. This was our means of communication from birth. Fingers and toes are parts of hands and feet. These of my own children were beyond precious to me.
When my children are sleeping, I often hold their hands, or stroke their feet. I place those hands upon my own cheek as they once reached to touch as infants. The feeling of their palms on my skin makes my heart beat faster, or skip a beat. The tiny pulses of love that emanate between us are hidden and unspoken.
As a Montessori teacher, I am aware of the importance in the developmental process that the hand signifies. We look for strength, dexterity, grip, etc to see the grown and development of a child. We see feet as a path to independence, and know the value of stability for motor coordination, and overall balance and function. Curiosity and wonder are fulfilled by hands and feet. Touch and sensation map the brain in comprehension and understanding of the world. And I'm sure anthropologists, poets, writers, artists, and musicians have all filled us with the poetic beauty that hands provide and create for our species.
However, it is as a parent that I understand the love that is shared between me and my child. Their hands and feet, their love and instability, their trust, desire, and will lay between those 10 fingers and 10 toes. It is also a sadness that draws me to them in silence as I watch them become more independent, trusting their own steadiness to walk away, or ability and will to let me know they can do it on their own. As they grow in confidence of their own hands and feet discovering the world, I sense the distance that could grow between us. And holding on to them just a little longer in my own hands gives me paramount strength to let them go, to be free, to do on their own, and to love them more deeply than the day before.