Taken by the hand

One summer day, many years ago, I was in my early and my sister in her late teens, my mum called the two of us to the attic of our holiday house to have a “serious talk”. My mum was a loving but rather strict parent, so a serious talk would imply you were in some sort of trouble. She told us that she wasn’t feeling well and while it was probably nothing serious, she wanted to tell us a few things, you know, just in case. For whenever it happens. Now, this sounds quite morbid, especially for my mum who is an eternal optimist if there ever was one, but put into perspective it makes more sense. My mum lost both of her parents in her twenties, within a couple of years of each other, and a lot of things had been left unsaid which made her loss even harder to bear. So she went over a few practical things, on the level that was appropriate for us, drilled some more of “you have no one closer than each other” as though the previous 13+ years weren’t enough (it worked though, my sister and I are very close) and to our huge surprise totally skipped the studying hard/making sure we could provide for ourselves thing she made sure we grew up with and instead dropped the unexpected “and my biggest wish for you both is to, one day, take {a child*} by the hand”.

Fast forward more than a decade, I brought my firstborn baby to the same house for the first time. I was in a bit of a delirious state from the exhaustion accumulated over the sleepless months, sudden weight of responsibility and conflict of my own identity. That first night, my mum told me how thankful she was that both her and my dad have lived long enough to see me with a child (my dad had suffered a massive heart attack when I was 8 months pregnant and the doctors thought he wouldn’t make it; her own health was declining and other than the fact that it was a neurological condition we didn’t even have a diagnosis yet).  And then she added that she doesn’t need to worry about me any longer. I wanted to tell her that she should actually start worrying now because I don’t have a clue what I am doing with that child of mine and that I am probably doing it all wrong, and that I find it so very hard at times and at the same time so exhilarating and that the depth and rawness of emotions I feel sometimes scare me and… I can’t remember how much of it I actually said, most likely I fell asleep mid-sentence.

Fast forward almost seven years,  on a Thursaday afternoon, my second-born and I are walking along Oude Delft to fetch my firstborn from school (that baby is now in fourth grade). Or better, he is running and I am trying to keep up with him; these days he says so seriously: “Mama, now I HAVE TO run” and runs off to burn all that energy of a three year old. I walk behind him, wanting to take it all in, maybe snap a photo, it is all so beautiful, the canal on the left side, Oude Kerk in the front, Uit de Kunst to the right and my running boy amongst all of it. But my mind is heavy with the events of the work morning and choices and decisions to be made, and deadlines and timelines and uncertainties and it all feels too much. I try to shake it off and come back to this moment but it won’t go away. Oude Delft is a long street, and my boy’s legs, however long for his age, are still small, so he gets tired and starts walking next to me. I praise him for running so long and so fast, he says that he is just taking a break and will run some more. He walks a few more meters, turns to me with a sparkle in his big brown eyes and says: “Mama, give me your hand, let’s run together!” He takes me by the hand, pulls me and we start running. He holds my hand tightly and laughs with the full heart of a three year old and I feel the weight of my self-inflicted worries lifting off, I can’t even remember why they were so heavy after all. He laughs louder and louder and I join him, and we eventually stop running, exhausted, still laughing. And while catching my breath I finally catch the true meaning of my mum’s words. She doesn’t need to worry about me, I am taken by the hand.



*(in Serbian the phrase take by the hand implies taking your own child by the hand)

1 Comment

Filed under Cherished moments, Life in Delft, Mindfulness, not such a zen mama, Out of the mouths of babes

One response to “Taken by the hand

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