Her somewhat toothless grin makes me giddy.
I can’t help it. I just want to eat her up. I keep checking on her left top tooth. Her gum is swollen where the tooth will soon appear … at least I think it will be soon, it seems it’s been on it’s way in for a long time. A couple times a day I ask her to smile and open wide so I can check the progress. At least once a day I stick my finger in her mouth to feel for the tooth poking through.
Before I know it her smile will change.
I sigh and smile.
She is eight. Yes, eight. Not eight months, not eighteen months–eight years old. Her gap-toothed smile is about to change. Soon the adult tooth will take it’s rightful place, but for now I enjoy the watching and waiting game. It’s been a fun throw back for me, checking her little gums, feeling for the tooth to finally make its appearance, but instead of me buttoning up her pajamas and nursing her while she twirls my hair with her little hand, she can dress herself and offer a thesis on why she holds a certain view quite well.
Sometimes the passage of time hits me hard.
My heart was squeezed just a moment ago as I looked at pictures my husband took of a recent fishing trip. My three kids just look so different (big), and it’s happened overnight. I want to be present. I want to celebrate the fact that they are growing as they are meant to. Time tugs at my heart, though, turning my mind to 10 years ago when I first became a mom, and then my mind inevitably goes to 18 months later when I became a mom for the second and third time with a set of boy-girl twins.
My heart works hard to hold all the memories and at the same time, soak up the present. There’s a give and take here, I can’t only look back–I can’t wish they were babies again and I can’t only focus on where they are now without the perspective of how they’ve grown.
This is why I am relishing the arrival of this new tooth. Why I cherish the snuggles from my big boy. It is the reason I pick up my eight-year-old son and carry him around the house (not for too long, he gets heavy). This place I find myself consists of holding on and at the same time letting go. It’s the only way to embrace what is front of me.
Embracing is giving in.
Giving in to growth, giving in to change, giving in to the fact God cares for them more than I do.
And so I watch, wait and pray. I watch them change and grow and hope that my heart can hold all that it feels. I wait for God to reveal His plan for them. I pray that I might continue to embrace this tension between the past and the present. I get to have a front row seat to watch my babies grow. I don’t want to squander that view by wishing time away or wishing I could go back in time. I want to embrace where we are now.
I have discovered that embracing the present is hard. I am just being honest. It is a conscious decision I must make again and again. I need a seat belt for my front row seat. When eight is hard my mind tends to wander back to when she was two. And then she smiles at me. Her gap-toothed smile brings me back to the present and I grab her and wrap my arms around her, content, in this moment, to embrace now.
Bethany seeks kindling for joy and growth in Tucker, GA, where she lives with her handsome hubby and three sweet and crazy kids. A few of her favorite things are reading to her kids, a great deal on a great dress, crunchy leaves and dark chocolate. She wishes one of her favorite things was consistency. She writes to encourage hearts (including her own) at bethanyhoward.com. Her favorite topics to write about are the moments that spill out of her heart and cannot be contained.
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