"I saw you and Jeff going for a walk the other day, holding hands so cute," Coffee Friend 2 says, almost accusingly.
I am confused so I say, "Don't you and your husband hold hands when you go for a walk?"
"It would NEVER occur to me," she says emphatically.
Hmm. This is very funny to me as she is Italian and she and her hubby are big huggers and her husband even kisses the men he greets on the cheek but they don't hold hands?
So in my late 40's I noticed for the first time that not all couples hold hands. Weird. In my family everyone holds hands. Married couples, parents and children, young siblings.
Lately my hand has been getting held less though. First Grace and now Lilly have announced they are too old to hold my hand in public. Atticus--well I don't think I've held his hand since he was 3.
I understand of course. You can't very well go to your sixth grade conference holding your mommy's hand but still, after reaching for a child's hand for sixteen years and always finding one it's a bit unnerving to reach out and grab only air.
Today in the van on the way to school I asked Lilly for a stealth hand-hold. She complied but only after making sure the angle of our arms would not give us away to any casual observer driving by.
Is this what parenthood is ultimately about? Forming incredibly tight attachments and bonds the first ten years and then learning to untangle them and let go for the next 50?
When I dropped her at the school door she turned her face in my direction. I no longer expect a kiss goodbye but at least she looked at me and smiled and thanked me for the ride. This is more than I get from my two high-schoolers. I notice they are nearly out the door before the van comes to rest, eager to start their day in their own world, shouting goodbye over their shoulders.
Which is all just how it should be and though we grieve all endings I am left in a lovely place, where this all began. Holding Jeff's hand.