We do a lot with our hands. We reach out and touch. We use them to communicate, to learn about the world. With them, we feel. We create. We accomplish tasks. We use them to cook and clean and drive. We use them to wield tools and to carry things and to write. We use them to bring things closer to ourselves.

With our hands, we hold little hands. We wipe away tears and put bandages on boo-boos. We tousle hair and play and turn pages of beloved books. We use them to direct and to applaud. They caress and cradle and comfort.

Hands can also destroy. They can be used to divide, to threaten, to point and accuse. To harm.

Our hands are incredibly powerful. And it’s important how we use them.

When trying to decide what to name this blog, I read the poem, “Everything,” by Mary Oliver. In it, she expresses her desire to “make poems that say right out, plainly, / what I mean, that don’t go looking for the / laces of elaboration, puffed sleeves. I want to / keep close and use often words like / heavy, heart, joy, soon, and to cherish / the question mark and her bold sister / the dash. I want to write with quiet hands.”

This simplicity and earnestness of that sentence stopped me.

With quiet hands.

Oliver was, of course, talking about poetry, not parenting, but the truth of her poem still applies.

In fact, the more I looked at the poem, the more I realized that Oliver’s deep desire for meaningful poetry reflected my parenting goals. I want to raise children who don’t need added praise or decoration to feel worthy, but know that they are enough just as they are. I want them to feel deeply, to not be afraid to question or to wonder.

I want to parent with quiet hands.

And perhaps you do, too.