Nathan lost his first tooth yesterday. He came into my bedroom as I was dressing and showed me (for about the 439 time since he realized that it was loose) how loose it was. His exact words were, "It came up on one side!" The other side was leaning on another tooth and I told him if he pulled the loose one away from the other one, he would probably have a visit from the Tooth Fairy that night or the next. He reached in and then with some surprise pulled the tooth completely out!
There really aren't words to describe how excited he was. He jumped up and down (never mind the bleeding gum) and ran around in circles. We called Daddy to tell him the good news and then jumped around some more. He insisted that he bring it to school so he could wear it around his neck in some sort of tooth receptacle that the nurse has devised for such an occasion. He began to plot and plan how he was going to spend the money left under his pillow by that nocturnal sprite we know and love.
He was so excited about this milestone, and although I was excited for him I unexpectedly felt a little sad. Nathan was my first baby. I learned how to be a mother with him. I made many mistakes with him that I did not repeat with Grace. I carefully recorded each sigh, step and bite of food. I anxiously looked through my development books to make sure that he was right on track with all of his milestones. I cheered him on and probably pushed him harder than I should have to do all of the "firsts" instead of just letting it happen.
In spite of my mistakes and sometimes overzealous encouragement, he grew straight and tall over the years. He evolved from that chunky little red-headed baby into a precocious toddler and then to a preschooler with an insatiable curiosity. Now he is at the end of his Kindergarten year and is beginning to read, can jump off the top of the fort in the backyard, and is an accomplished bike rider. He's growing so fast and it's almost more than I can bear. The loss of that first tooth just brought it into sharp focus yesterday.
I think what saddens me about Nathan growing up is the fact that I am getting closer and closer to the day that he won't need me anymore. I know that we never lose the visceral feeling of needing our mothers....I feel like I need mine all of the time. But we we don't literally need them the way that we did when we were children. To Nathan, I am the center of the universe; his world revolves around me. He needs my nurturing and comfort. He needs the special way that I take care of him when he is sick. I occupy a place in his world that no one else could ever inhabit, and that is one of the things I love most about being a mother. I am replaceable in almost all other areas in my life, but never as a mom. His unconditional, pure love is something that I drink in like clear cold water every time I look into his green-gold eyes.
So, I am beginning to prepare myself for all of those little deaths that I will have to die as a mother. The first time he is embarrassed by my affection in public. The first time I give him the keys to the car to go out with his friends. The first time I begin to see him as a man. The first time I see that his love is directed at another woman. We sometimes think that those "firsts" are limited to babyhood and childhood, but they are not. There are so many firsts in his life and the older he gets the slower I want them to come. I pushed him to take that first step, but now I am beginning to dig my heels in a little as each new milestone appears. I think there might be deep ruts behind me by the time he leaves home!
It seemed like such a simple, ordinary thing when he told me he had a loose tooth a few weeks ago. I guess that nothing is simple or ordinary when it comes to the lives of our children, especially when we see their childhood slipping by like so many grains of sand in an hourglass.
Lord, thank you for Nathan. Thank you for a beautiful, intelligent child who never ceases to amaze (and humor) me with his wit and his commentary on life in general. I have been blessed beyond measure and I pray that I will have the grace to guide him on the path that leads to You. There is no greater gift that I can give him than the means and knowledge to come to know You and to give his life over to Your service. I pray for early salvation and a life well lived for your glory. Amen.
"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD."