Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The first time I held Archer, seconds after he was born, he took hold of my pinky. With his whole hand, he squeezed so tight. So tiny. It was the very first moment we saw each other. Face to face. Our eyes locked. He squeezed harder. I remember thinking, how strong you are, little baby. Because it almost hurt.
I remember feeling so taken by the tightness of his grasp. The miracle of a human so small, once on the inside, now out. In the world. Squeezing. Too small to wrap his hand around anything but my finger. My smallest finger.
It was a reflex, they told me. Hold your pinky out and he will grab on. He won't let go. And he didn't. And I didn't want him to.
And sometimes he held my ring finger. Or my pointer finger or my thumb. And when he was learning to walk he would hold two fingers, one from each hand and I'd say, "come on! You can do it!" and he'd smile and fall on his face, his hands slipping from my fingers...
...Until he grabbed on again. Pulling himself back up. "Hold on tight!"
Today, for the first time, Archer didn't want to take my finger. We were walking down the stairs outside our house and instead of grabbing my finger, he took my hand. My whole hand. So our palms were against each other and our fingers met and we continued down the stairs. For the first time, hand in hand.
Because I think maybe his hand was too big for fingers. Because he is too big for fingers. Today he was.
He doesn't have the finger-grabbing reflex anymore. It goes away when they get big. I know because night after night I put my finger in his hand and wait for it to wrap around me like a sea anemone and it doesn't. The finger reflex goes away. This is what I've been told. Just like the startling reflex when babies raise their hands and shake their arms when they're sleeping and someone makes a loud sound.
I remember how one day, it stopped. And he woke up instead.
I can't believe how quickly it happens. The change. Of size and smell and instinct. I can't believe that yesterday Archer was holding my finger and today he took my hand. And then he took it again. My hand. And again...
And already I mourn the day he will grow out of that as well. Just like I did. Swatting my mother's hand from mine because I wanted to cross the street myself.
But for now, at least I have his hand. And the memories of those early days. When my finger was so big. When he had no choice but to hold on and not let go.
Edited to add: Today is the last day to vote for your favorite blogs in the Share the Love Blog Awards. I'm super flattered to have been nominated for several of them (thank you, kindly!) along with some of my favorite bloggers. If you feel like voting, click here.