My mom has told me the story many times of how, when she was pregnant with me, she hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t resemble her in any way – except her hands.

She didn’t want me to get her curly hair or unusually tall height. She didn’t necessarily want me to have her green eyes or fair skin. But her hands? Her hands are the one feature that she likes. And so she wished for her baby girl to inherit the genes of long fingers and nicely rounded fingernails.

If you’ve ever seen my mom and me, you know things didn’t exactly work out as she’d hoped. For most of my life, I’ve been the spitting imagine of my mother – except my hands.

My hands look a lot like my dad’s – and that’s worse than it even sounds. I’m not talking about callouses or bitten nails. Instead, my hands have the same short, stubby fingers and nails that his do – and to top it all off, my knuckles play hide and seek, only showing up to remind me that I still have what my parents mockingly lovingly call “baby knuckles.”

Last month I received a manicure at Blissdom. The polish color choices were pretty slim, and given the choice of barely there pink, goth purple and hooker red, I went with the red. Between the special treatment and the splash of color, I felt just a touch more pretty and feminine than normal. (And I had to admit that the garish shade went perfectly with my flash mob fingerless gloves!)

But after a few days, the paint began to chip. Partly because I didn’t want to let go of my Blissdom “souvenir” and partly because I’m lazy, I still put off removing the paint. And then, in my typical overachieving fashion, I put it off some more. Until I looked down at my hands (many days later) and realized how awful my fingers looked!

Just like that, I was back to hating my stubby little fingers.

Before I had the chance to remove the now-offensive paint, I heard a small voice whisper, “Look at your hands. No, look at them! Now, tell me what these hands do.”

[Now, before you think I’m either a) super holy or b) totally crazy, let me clarify. It wasn’t an audible voice whispering in my ear. It was more a thought that flitted through my mind: These hands. These hands. These hands! But I’m calling that a whisper. So there.]

These hands . . .

. . . hug, help, clean, protect, reassure, love my daughter.
. . . hold, comfort, support, love my husband.
. . . cook [sometimes] delicious and [occasionally] healthy meals.
. . . wash and fold and scrub and wipe and sweep.
. . . write blog posts and news releases and letters and tweets and stories.
. . . play lovely songs laced with emotion and [a few] wrong notes.
. . . pet my cats. Even when they’re annoying.
. . . create scrapbooks that highlight and hold my memories.
. . . capture those memories with my camera.
. . . make to-do lists and grocery lists and calendar dates.
. . . say hello and I love you and thank you and you’re wonderful.

And, of course, that’s just the beginning. These hands also have car dance parties and indoor picnics, write thank you notes and love notes, pour tea and laundry detergent and love, and operate remotes and radios and lives.

These hands are kind of a big deal. I’m thankful for these hands – even if their fingers are short, their cuticles are ripped and their knuckles are ridiculously non-existent. I love these hands.

Maybe you have hands like mine – dry, chubby, under-appreciated. Or perhaps it’s not your hands that need a little love. Maybe you need a new perspective on your legs or your hair or your stomach or your face. Whatever it is, could it be that this part of your body, this part of you, deserves a second look?

What do you love about your hands? (Or legs or hair or stomach or face or . . .?)

If you’d like another look at my hands and what they can do, here’s a recording of me playing the piano. I didn’t want to videotape my whole body – or the still-not-finished spare room my piano lives in, so I kept the camera focused on my hands. I cringed when I first watched it, both from the wrong notes and the chubby hands (not to mention how badly my piano needs tuned!). But now that I think about it more, I think I like this video just fine. These hands play a lovely song.

Photos of hands by Mattias, derya, and laura dye.

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