For a week in December I felt the heart-tugging, hot tears that come when one realizes that her babies are growing and nothing can be done to slow the process. And it came in the form of a seven day toothapalooza. On December 11th, I ran my finger along Lola's gums to soothe the ache of teething only to find that that razor sharp tooth had finally sliced through her gums.
Why was this so jarring to me? I knew it was coming. I could feel the raised line of the tooth straining against the tissue of her lower arch for weeks. She was approaching 6 months. She had been drooling, red-cheeked and a bit off her game for weeks. This was not a surprise. But still I was jarred by it. I sat on the sofa in a bit of a stunned, silent moment of disbelief or perhaps denial.
Five days later Meg lost one of her front top teeth. I pulled it out in fact and then proceeded to sit on my knees in the middle of our living room with her little stump of a tooth in between my fingers and a tear in my eye. What had I just done? This was the tooth that would make her say "toof" instead of tooth. This was the tooth that would change the shape of her face and soon be followed by an adult tooth that will look awkward, and misshapen and ten times too big for her little mouth. And here I was holding it in my hand.
Closely on the heels of this, on the 18th of December, Lola's second tooth popped through her tender little gums. This was more than I could bare...
My mother has often spoken tenderly of her time spent with her fourth baby. She knew that this would be the last of her brood and she relished every little moment of that little ones first years. She held her, rocked her and cuddled her more than any of her three previous babes. At that point she had a 7 year old and three children under four years old. And yet she managed to create the time and space to give this baby a little more... Or in fact to give herself a little more of this baby. She has spoken about this so much in my lifetime that I wonder if she feels a little guilty that she never did that with the rest of us too. It comes up again and again when we are holding our babies as they sleep in our arms. I think she is trying to tell us that we will never be sorry that we did that. And as I hold this baby I now see the depth of what she was speaking. She was saying "don't be in such a rush". "In your joyful exuberance of motherhood don't wish away these precious days for the can't-waits of tomorrow" Meg cut her first teeth at 3 and a half months. I was proud. And I "couldn't wait" for the next great thing she would do. I was in a rush.
Now I am clutching at the moments and holding them close. The pendulum has swung wildly in the other direction. I am melancholy and wistful with each small change that takes Lola closer to becoming a little girl. I am so thoroughly ensconced in her infancy that I am forgetting that she is growing. One day a few weeks ago I sat her up to see if she could balance. She had it mastered in a few minutes. She had been ready for that weeks earlier but I had been blind to this fact. In my heart and mind she was still a newborn.
I absolutely and completely adore the people my two girls are becoming. Lola has a quirky charm that brings a smile to light on my lips hundreds of times a day. She looks at her sister with complete and total adoration ... Meg is a truly creative and independent soul. She loves deeply and does not hesitate for a moment to show it in any situation. She makes me laugh a lot and I admire her in a way I did not know was possible. When asked in the past who my hero was I would have answered "my mother" but now I would have to add that my daughter is too. This is a surprise to me. So I do look forward to seeing more of the people they will become. I really do... and for now I will try and find some balance. I will hold fast and let go. Or maybe for a little while longer I will just hold fast.
Tonight Meg lost the second of her front top teeth. She worked away at it herself all afternoon. It was hanging on by only one side and when it was very nearly falling out she lost her courage. She said she was scared and she didn't seem to know why. I was too. She called my mom and asked if she would come over. She wanted her to pull that tooth. Nanny is the go to lady when it comes to teeth. She pulled every last one of mine. I remember it clearly. Most of the time she was sitting on the lid of our green toilet seat with me standing between her legs. She would expertly squeeze my tooth right at the gums and it would painlessly pop out into the tissue she had used to get a grip. Tonight was no different. And immediately my big girl's face was changed. She looks beautiful. The huge gap in the front of her mouth making her look incredibly vulnerable and yet more mature. She made quite a production of the tooth fairy preparation tonight. Insisting that we leave her a snack, a small gift and a note. She has an absolutely blind obsession with fairies at the moment so this is almost a spiritual phenomenon for her. She mindfully prepared a beautiful alter on the bathroom counter for her fairy to behold. A snack of tiny chocolate covered sunflower seeds in a very tiny dish, a small piece of soft fabric that she found after a soulful search in her room (she imagined the fairy could use it as a sleeping bag), her tooth floating in a small dish of water, and a lovely handwritten note with pictures.
She will wake tomorrow to find that her fairy has taken her tooth and in doing so has dipped its wing in that dish, revealing its colour by tinting the water green. We have kept the water from each tooth she has lost in the freezer and in the spring we plan to water some flower seeds with it in hopes that they will grow with a bit of magic inside. Kinda like my girls...
...growing with a bit of magic inside.