This is a mom washing paint from her toddler’s hands. I bet she had to wash the child’s hands three or four times in the course of the 1.5 hr Mother’s Day Tea sponsored by Watertown Family Network. Washing hands is just part of the deal for moms. They do it over and over and over, usually without thinking about it. It’s one of those quotidian but profound acts rich with holiness.
Hand washing protects the child. I remember the period of time when I was learning to trust my children to wash their own hands. So hard to let go! There were times at birthday parties or picnics when I had to sit on my own hands to keep from grabbing a wet wipe and reaching for their wrist, which would have embarrassed them to no end.
Now my children are Tweens and we have moved on to new challenges: entrusting them to the internet, to their own sense of fashion, and to their own emerging sense of self. That impulse to rush in and protect is still oh, so strong, and sometimes, I believe, important to honor. But when and how seems less clear. It’s not as simple as grabbing a wet wipe.
I take comfort from the fact that I seem to have survived not only dirty hands (Did I ever wash my hands at summer camp?), but bumping around in the station wagon sans seat belt, drinking Tab all through high school, and walking around Kenya for a year without applying even a dollop of sunscreen. But I’m still gonna pray every night for my children’s health and safety. And I’m still going to gather advice from wise friends sharing this parenthood journey with me. And I’m keeping some wet wipes handy, too.