Monica folds herself up like a grasshopper to play on the floor. She is all arms and legs with seemingly an extra limb in there, because goodness that’s a lot of skin! There is not an ounce of toddler chub left on her body or in her face.
She even lost her first tooth recently!
As my oldest, I know she’ll be full of firsts, but sometimes my reaction to those milestones are unexpected. I was surprisingly nostalgic, even teary, about that first tooth. I flashed back to her toothless turtle-smile as a baby, to those fearful nights of tylenol and crying as we navigated teething, to her changed smile as those teeth busted through, and how many thousands of smiles I’ve seen from her face with that tooth solidly in place.
A tiny piece of her, a piece that I helped grow- first inside my own body, then with nourishment from my body, then with the food I provided via the work of my body- now rests in my jewelry box. A generational mirror of the place my baby teeth are kept.
When I discovered our teeth in my mother’s jewelry box, I didn’t understand what they were doing there, nestled among so many other shiny, treasured things.
I understand now.
There’s something analogous to all of parenting in that lost tooth. The pain of growing, the inevitable letting go, the desire to treasure the past.
She’s growing a new tooth now in that empty hole. She’s got several other wiggly teeth. They will, eventually, all leave.
I remember thinking, not long ago, that her smile had started to outgrow those baby teeth. They looked so small in her big-girl, first-grader smile.
And now, she’s growing a new big-girl smile. A smile that will, at first, seem too big for her little first-grader face, but that she will grow into. A smile that will stay with her a lifetime.
Here are some photos from a recent Father/Daughter dance. (As a side note: the girls have such an amazing example of true, sacrificial love in their father. It’s my prayer that they learn from him how a man should treat a woman… learn what real love and respect looks like. Just as I did, from my Dad.)
You can just barely see the spot left by her missing tooth. Her smile is different, but still beautiful. Perhaps there’s another lesson about parenting in there. There is beauty in growth. Beauty in different.
There’s also a lot of humor in growth. Case in point, our son:
The girls could barely keep it together during his photo bomb. Each of the other children has also grown and changed in similarly significant ways during the last several months.
This is true every time after a new baby. I kind of wake up one morning, and everything is different. I think it happens once the baby starts sleeping a little more and we’re past the truly sleep-deprived state. Suddenly I start seeing my kids again, instead of just surviving my kids.
Let’s be honest, those first few months (years?) for me are just making it to the next meal, next snack, next nap… Extra gold stars if I can throw in a load of laundry, but considering how often I sit on the couch to fold it and fall asleep instead, the chances of it leaving the couch are pretty minimal.
But then, one day, I do get it folded. Even put away! I find activities for the kids to do between assembling food on their plates! I actually start to mom again!
More on the other kiddos coming soon.
But just in case you forgot, here’s the Mo-Bug I see in my head when I think about that first tooth…