My firstborn, CR, lost her third tooth this past week. One of the big ones. One of the top middle two. Her bottom two teeth came out about a year ago and her teeth had been taking a break from falling out before the top two started loosening up about two months ago.
She has such restraint and patience. So not like me. She let us know when her top teeth started “wiggling” but she would never ever touch them. Not ever. Wouldn’t push them with her tongue, wouldn’t mess with them and every time I would try and bribe her just to let me wiggle it just once, she would always respond with a calm yet resounding “no.”
CR will always be groundbreaking for me because it was her soul that pulled me over the edge into the deep chasm of motherhood that I was so deathly afraid to jump into. It took hours and hours and hours laboring and trying to birth her. Finally, probably because I was so damn tired and so beaten down from trying to hold on to the life I knew, I relented. Finally giving in to the knowledge that she just had to come out sometime. Becoming a mother was inevitable. Just let it be.
CR’s soul is like mine in many ways – stubborn, strong, sensitive, deep, wild, energetic, alive, fierce at times, but loyal and loving. Which means we clash sometimes. My 6 ½-year-old girl can have moods like a teenager and coupled with a need to express her individuality and independence, she can be a tough one. Sometimes it’s hard for me to watch. A wild soul who has robbed me from the control over my life that I used to have. Other times, I stand back and my knees buckle with love for her. Her unique spirit can humble me to the core of my being.
So back to the tooth. After a rough trip to the grocery store last Thursday with me yelling things like “This is not a playground!” at my girls as they ran through the aisles squealing in delight at some imaginary game in their super active brains, one of CR’s “big two” came out.
It wasn’t the one I thought would come out. She’s had a super-crooked, practically-sideways front tooth for at least two weeks now that I swore would be gone by now. The other top tooth came out leaving her with the one crazy crooked one in the middle of a gaping hole. Her face beamed with pride as she held her tooth excited to think the tooth fairy might leave that gold coin I had been talking up. My knees swayed with that look on her face. From her core shone a light so bright, I was blinded.
And then today. Realizing that the crooked tooth was not gonna last much longer as it literally is hanging by a thread, I wanted to snap a picture. This is the picture.
And as I stare at this picture, I am again crippled with feelings so intense that I can’t help but have tears stream down my face. How I wish I could remember what it felt like to smile with not one ounce of self-awareness or self-consciousness. This beaming smile of toothless delight from a soul who is perfectly content in the moment just being who she is.
Exactly when does it happen? When do we lose that ability to feel nothing but security and self-love and confidence? The ability to live in the moment instead of thinking about the past or projecting into the future.
I am simply inspired by that smile. Inspired to continue to let go and be who I am now…a mother. A mother to three beaming lights of endless energy and needs. A woman who is slowly, slowly, slowly learning to stop the never-ending mind-riddling of all that could have been and what might be…and instead just jump into that toothless grin and just be.