My almost two year old son Nate has quite a few 'rituals' and one of them is holding my hand when he's tired. This has proven to be a bit of a challenge at times, because he simply must hold my hand; regardless of whether it's during the night when he wakes himself up, or when I'm trying to feed his baby sister at the same time. Needless to say, I've become frustrated many, many times, especially in the middle of the night, when it's near impossible to be holding his hand while also trying to settle his sister to sleep!
Now, when I say he holds my hand, I don't mean that he just needs to feel me near; he has to intertwine his little fingers into mine and hold my hand 'properly'. While it's absolutely gorgeous, you can imagine what it's like for me if for some reason, I can't, and he starts crying; waking everyone in the house up (including his little sister). It then becomes a never ending switch between the two of them, while I try my hardest to soothe them both back to sleep. Not fun! While this may simply be 'one of those things' that toddlers go through, with Nate, I believe there is a lot more to it, and it has to do with the first few weeks of his life. You see, Nate was born five weeks premature and at just ten days old, had open heart surgery to save his life. Not only was he in a humidicrib for the first eight days, but he was then wired up to so many machines, with tubes and all sorts of things hanging out of him, that the only real physical contact I was able to have with him for the first few weeks was to hold his hand. So, I guess you can safely say that it not only means a lot to him, but to me as well.
The more I think about it, even though it's quite inconvenient and can frustrate me to no end, this is the kind of stuff I'm going to miss one day. Of course, it's hard to be in that mindset in the middle of the night when all I want is to get a couple of hours block of sleep, but in years to come, when my little man is happily sleeping in his own bed and doesn't need his Mumma's hand to hold, I have no doubt I'll look back and wish that he'd want to do it one more time.