Thursday, October 10, 2013

baby teeth

Because Sir O's response to the very idea of the tooth fairy was mortal fear, she doesn't visit at our house, at least so far.  So when he loses a tooth, the routine has become that he ceremoniously places it inside of a plastic-tooth-shaped locket inside of a pouch with his name on it, inside of a larger pouch in the top drawer of my dresser.

It does occur to me that some people think that hanging on to baby teeth is all kinds of gross.  But I'm overly sentimental as a mom.  Anything that is a part of those bodies that I miraculously built is sacred enough to me that I have a hard time discarding them casually.

I was thinking about that pouch in my dresser and how those teeth went from being a part of Sir O's lithe little body to being separate, inanimate objects.  They will decompose so slowly that if they aren't lost or discarded, they could still be around after Sir O's body is not.

I don't mean to think about death as often as I do.  I'm not obsessed with it, I don't think, but it plays into my worldview on an everyday level.  It has come up often in texts for school lately as well, so there's that.  But I would often think, as I lay ill-out-my-eyeballs in pregnancy, that the babies I have worked so hard to get into this world will all leave it someday.  It's not a mental space I would recommend a pregnant woman dwell in for long, but it's a good perspective to touch base with every day.

It's good, I think, to remember that we are passing through this world and our time in it is finite.  Our culture seems bent on pretending that we will all live (and be young) forever.  We are horrifically inept at grieving.  We think we are all supposed to be okay all the time, and never die.  It seems so silly to me.  Nobody is okay all the time.  Everyone dies.  Everyone who loses a loved one (or even loses a beloved expectation) needs to be allowed to grieve at their own pace.

Somehow knowing that in each of my closest relationships, one of us will have to grieve the loss of the other at some point.... it's a productive melancholy.  It can be, I suppose, a momentary downer to think that way.  But when I do, it evokes a tremendous tenderness in the way I move through my day.  It heightens my awareness that right now is not forever.  I will not be cleaning up these particular messes, folding this particular laundry, repeating these particular mommy-lectures for very long at all. Moment by moment my life is being spent.  My time with my children is being spent.

If I were to live to be 80, on the dot, I'd have 29,219 days to my life.  I've already spent over 11,300 of mine, so I likely have fewer than 17,900 left.  Potentially far fewer.  Remembering that makes me far less likely to squander my today.  I have today, 1 day.  It seems a larger, more valuable thing when I keep the end of my days in mind.

So - there's a meditation of sorts for myself and mothers like me who are maybe prone to feeling impatient, whose sleep-deprivation has led them to wishing full seasons of their life away, or who are caught up in the blinders of feeling that this moment's situation is an eternal thing.  Zoom way out, have a little freak-out about how fast your life is going to pass before your eyes, and then go hug your babies with an added measure of gratitude and patience.

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