Lost Tooth

I crept into my daughters’ darkened room this morning, two sleeping lumps in their shared double bed, mouths open, limbs strewn wide, bed covers thrown off. For a moment I hesitated to wake them up, enjoying the sweetness of that moment, all the years of mother love wrapped into that tender image. I lowered my body onto the bed in the space between their bodies, enjoying the warmth of their limbs and the tickle of their hair in my face. My eldest opened her eyes, scrunched her freckled face at me and closed her eyes again. How easy it is to love them in this space between worlds.

I lean over to Hannah, the baby of the family, she opens her eyes and gives me a wide mouthed smile and I exclaim in delight. A gap where last night a tooth had dangled, greets us this foggy morning. “Where’s your tooth?” I cry out and both girls sit bolt upright in the excitement of this new loss. We all start laughing, yesterday had been shadowed by Hannah’s deep frustration that the tooth would not fall. We had all had a go at tugging, played numerous games of “Dentist” and yet the protruding little nugget had refused to let itself go. And then, with no efforting at all, it had slipped away to make room for the new.

We found her little treasure half way down the bed and popped it in a white mesh bag to place under her pillow tonight. And I can’t help marvelling at how this micro incident of joyful mothering parallels so much of what happens in life. How hard we work to make things happen, instead of trusting the innate timing of all things human. Control versus surrender , it’s an aspect of living I struggle within over and over again. Do I really imagine I can curtail or entail the inevitable twists of life that lead us through the mystery. What might it be like to instead revel in the unfolding, with a powerful sense of trust in all things good and wonderful. There’s a natural unfoldment in everything: mature teeth follow milk, laughter following tears, healing follows hurt. Most of the pain lies in the failure to really trust that all things change, ironic when the rest of our pain lies in our attempt to stop things changing.

And so I want to try and learn to trust more, to inch by inch grow myself out of needing to control, to offer up the fears behind the control to the sublime mystery that I know holds all of life, my own tender heart included. Gratitude and trust, let those be the mature teeth with which I feast on life. And let my fear and control drop like those sweet unneeded milk teeth.

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