Do You Have an Open Hand?

You know it’s not been your finest day when you end it with strained vocal cords, not because you were at an exciting game or excessively talking or inhaling smoke, but because you live with children. Yesterday was that kind of the day.

The reasons for the yelling were understandable: losing one of the few things I asked them not to lose, the same sibling squabble from yesterday, a new but equally sorry excuse for doing the same thing I asked them not to do approximately eighty-eight times, and the “sure I see your mountain of laundry, but where is my bathing suit?” All stuff justified for correction, but delivered in a cloud of anger. And while the message(s) might have been received, by the end of the day, I felt drained.

Being responsible for people can be exhausting. What I most wanted was to go bed and start over tomorrow. Instead, to make it through dinner, I called for a family huddle and apologised for the yelling. I felt marginally better but my throat still ached and my desire to serve had temporarily expired. That night my youngest and soon to be teenager wanted to sleep with me since my husband is away. Bless his heart, this was not exactly my plan for a good, recovery night’s sleep. Nevertheless …

Minutes after I thought he was already asleep, he whispered: “Do you have an open hand?” When I said yes and offered it up, he clasped my hand and pulled my arm tightly around his chest. After a few more beats, he breathed out: “I love you, Mom.” Not the cheap, rhetorical “I love you” but the muscular kind that deposits something intangible but true in your heart.

Staying in that cradled position long enough to lose feeling in my arm and watch him drift off to a deep sleep, I received the only thing big enough to take away the lingering ache. Not just his love but a deeper love that speaks gently, forgives our shortcomings and renews our resolve.

I’m up early today. It’s a new day. There will surely be new (and old) reasons to get frustrated today but I believe that last night’s dose of love has the potential to create a pattern different from before.

Love is the stitch that mends both our private and public impasses and gets us out from under the clouds of anger or despair. But in order for it to be realized, it must first be received. “Do you have an open hand?” If we know that a data packet can travel the globe in a second, surely we can believe that love can do circles around that.