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Challenge: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

How a lost tooth almost broke me

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On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I was folding laundry while watching a much overdue movie with my husband. My kids were only a floor below us watching a different movie, giggling magically together in unison.

They sounded so young and free, and in that moment, it made my heart so happy. They were 4 and 6, and although they were getting bigger and smarter by the minute, they were still both my cuddly innocent babies that loved silly things and each other.

About 20 minutes into our movie, we heard the pitter patter of their feet running up the stairs. I took one look at my husband, and we both knew something was up.

My daughter strolled in casually with her little brother not far behind. She paused and looked at the movie we were watching, and then slowly explained that she had been playing with her semi-wiggly tooth. I simply nodded blankly, completely unaware of what was about to happen.

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And then oh-so-slowly she opened her hand to the world’s tiniest tooth resting right in the middle of her palm. I blinked a few times to make sure I was seeing it correctly, and then she smiled and said “I finally lost a tooth!”

Next I did what all super mature put-together moms do, and I screamed at the top of my lungs. The room spun and her little face blurred a bit. And a few seconds later when my vision finally cleared, suddenly the baby girl I had just heard giggling downstairs, was now a blossoming little girl in front of me.

Her freckles that I always referred to as cute, now looked defining. The mismatched outfit she had picked out herself that morning was no longer comical but courageous. And the small gap now piercing my eyes at the bottom of her smile was not just a lost tooth, but a prideful benchmark of her growth and maturity.

I pulled myself together the best I could and embraced her in a giant bear hug of congratulations. I took a deep breath and inhaled as much of her as I could. I felt the warmth of her body against mine and it transported back to those first few weeks of her life, where we were skin to skin for most hours in the day. To a time where she was tiny enough to carry in one arm, and required me for everything from food to clothes to love.

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Then as her Dad and brother took their turn to hug her in this joyous moment, I sat back and flashed to some of her most memorable firsts – like her first steps, her first birthday, her first words, the first kiss she gave her brother, her first pee on the potty, her first night in a big girl bed, and her first dance class. And in that moment I mentally added to the list…her first lost tooth.

You see each of these moments throughout her 6 years of life have filled me with both love and heartbreak. I never knew how easily a soul can feel both at the same time. I had no idea you can be overjoyed for something momentous happening, while simultaneously dreading the loss of everything that happened before.

This to me has been one of the hardest parts of being a mother. How do you celebrate when your heart is partially broken? How do you exude joy when it feels like the wind is being knocked out of you?

I do not have the secret, and I am still working through these feelings every single day. But to help I do remind myself that these changes will happen with or without my permission. She will loose more teeth, grow several more inches, and one day even start to drive.

There is literally no way for anyone to stop time. It is the one thing not even the most brilliant super moms can do. Because believe me, if there was a way to do it, a determined mother would have already figured it out, bottled it up and would be selling it on Etsy today.

The loss of this tooth was not something new to the world, but it was something new to me. Like every step I have taken as my daughter’s mom, I have learned along the way. Why would this be an exception?

Because with every new childhood phase a little part of me breaks...yet another part of me also grows. I learn with her and from her. The casualness of her tooth loss calmed me down quickly. She was excited, but not overwhelmed, and then so was I.

She was still the little giggling girl downstairs, just now with a new milestone under her belt. So I paused to mourn what life was like before she ran up those stairs, but then immediately embraced what was new and exciting right in front of me.

A beautiful little girl with one less tooth, but a lifetime of moments to share with her mom.

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