It has happened.
She lost her first tooth.
"So what's the problem?" you may ask.
I am becoming less and less fond of the signs my girl is getting...
[much choking and clearing of the throat]
bigger - That is, more grown up.
I look at the gap in her mouth and I feel all full and empty at the same time.
So full of joy that she is doing all the things that a girl her size ought to do.
She is 'perfect' according to our family doctor.
I love our family doctor
(Even if he is under an illusion concerning me having perfect children).
Then I feel so empty at the thought of her leaving so many sweet stages behind.
Leaving me behind.
Then I feel full of hope that she will always love me like I continue to love my mother.
Then empty again when I think of how many qualities I have yet to share with my mother.
My pouring out is interrupted by a flood of memories.
It was 1990.
I was five.
"And a half", I would have told you.
I lost my first tooth on the way home from a day of 'working' with my dad. He often let me go along when he went on short carpentry jobs. I pounded nails into little wood scraps and was always very quiet and well-behaved.
So very unlike my 'perfect' children!
I remember that I was excited and ran into the house to tell mom. Everyone, including the neighbors, made a big deal about it. We went to my cousin's sixth birthday party that evening and he was mad at me for losing a tooth before him. I hope over the years I have made it up to him.
I wonder if my mother felt all weepy and melt-y inside over the bloody space in my mouth and the sloppy, tiny, white baby-tooth held in my chubby, childish hand.
I wonder if she warned me not to be careless and lose the thing before the Tooth Fairy had a chance to come.
I wonder if she let me take it to the birthday party.
I wonder if she overheard me telling my other cousins that, "It serves him right for always teasing me about being six months younger!" and "Girls really are better at everything, even losing teeth!"
I wonder if she thought I was as well-behaved as I remember being.
My thoughts turn to the baby girl I had one day.
Our thoughts were far from teeth that day.
I miss that baby.
But I wouldn't trade the girl she became.
The months flew by.
I was interested to see that the tooth she lost first was the same one that came in first.
Does that always happen?
You can see it there, peeking out of her baby grin.
How excited we were when it first appeared.
How silly we were to hope for every milestone.
As if they would not have come soon enough if we had not wished away the days.
As if in savoring every moment we would have slowed the ticking of the clock.
Full of Love, Memories and Wonder in Nebraska