Jude lost both of his front teeth in the last week. The first one fell out last weekend when he bit into his sandwich across the table from me. Then he called me on Thursday as I was on my way home from work. “I lost my toof at school today, mama!” I found him in the bathroom that night in front of the mirror, trying to sound out words without the help of his front teeth. Laughing at the sounds coming out.
It’s funny that when kids are babies, you mourn every little change. The day their bony legs begin to unfurl from that newborn fold, every time they grow out of a tiny onesie. The nostalgia on that first birthday was tangible to me. Memories of birth and the early quiet moments I wanted to return to.
It seems like babyhood is particularly transient because it moves so fast, but I think that’s a wrong assumption. It’s all fleeting. The older I get, the more I understand this. Life moves and grows and changes, and you don’t even realize something is new until you look around to see yourself in a different place.
Soon enough, his teeth will grow in. His gummy lisp will disappear. The awkwardness of his smile will be replaced by something else that will grow and change. It’s the way it goes.
And we do it, too. People grow older. People change and leave, and yet others you never expected will enter your life. The secret, I’m learning, is not to cling to every passing phase with white-knuckled panic. It’s hard though – knowing that something is not permanent when you wish it would stay. But it makes the hard stuff easier when you see that it’s just passing through. It makes it all more beautiful when you know that nothing lasts forever.
The past year has felt like a trial by fire for me. It’s strengthened me and molded me when I willed myself to sit still and weather the storm. But I feel like a season of rest is around the corner. Not decadence and luxury and extravagant reward for the ways I’ve grown, but a quiet after the storm. I feel it sometimes when I am alone and in everyday seconds with my kids. A moment to steady my pace and exhale and see the transient gifts that wait for me. Toothless grins, baby doll strollers, ballet tights with wrinkles at her knees, and his little voice slowly sounding its way through books. Quiet nights alone, more time for writing, excursions with friends old and new, and the wide open wonder of a vast blank page in front of me.
Real life is never boring when I remember that these details that are so commonplace now will give me a longing ache when I view them one day through the lens of nostalgia.