first tooth

Her first tooth erupted on Saturday after a prelude of drool and night nursing. She is six months old, it seems too fast, but isn’t that the way it always is? For every new milestone represents a loss as well as a gain. She’s a different baby this week than she was last week. She is the river I can never swim in twice, the shifting clouds, the unfurling leaf. I gasp as I smile, I embrace the new child I meet while I long to hold her a bit longer as she is, to keep her small. 

Perhaps it’s the curse of an older mother. We know the heartache of loss, and these mini ones sting old wounds. I’ll never know what kind of mom I would have been in my twenties, but I suspect more like my own, with a sunny optimism that pushes away the painful realizations. Or maybe not. Maybe it is part of me, this longing to have things be as they are, yet also different. Maybe Mom experienced some of these feelings too, but I can’t ask her, and she never would have shared with anyone if she did, for she kept close vigilance over her darker thoughts and generally did not give them the dignity of breath. I can only go my memory of her and her words, spotty and inaccurate as that can be:

Do you miss me being a baby?

No. I always feel like I love the age that you are. It’s fun watching you grow up. Plus babies are a ton of work. 

Well, then. Was she protecting me? Giving me the answer I wanted to hear? Or was that really her truth?

I guess I want to shield J from my sorrows, the twingy sadness that comes with every leap forward. I want her to feel my love like sunshine, warm and shining, not heavy or mournful. Her victories we can share but my grief will be my own to hold.

5 thoughts on “first tooth

  1. Janice Tulluck

    I came upon your blog one day, and being another who has experienced the passing of those in my care. I appreciated your ability to express the emotions of their passing, and the pain you felt. So I followed your writing.
    Congratulations on the immense wonder and responsibility of a new little being placed in your care to nurture, and marvel at. I shed tears as you shared the passing of the elders in your care. I am glad that you have been given the view from the other end of life to bring balance. To get to experience the wonderment of, not just a child, but your child. Your flesh and blood, and yet, unique in her own being. To carry forth the gift of life, just as you did, and your mother before you. May you and your precious little one revel in all the joy and wonderment that life has to offer…

    1. bornbyariver Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m trying to carve out a few moments in my surprisingly busy new life to write. I feel grateful to have this experience of parenthood, and know my mom would have been so thrilled to share with me. Thank you for reading.

  2. Barbara snow

    Your writing is exquisite. I’m so glad you’re doing it again. Juniper will treasure it someday.
    Love to all three of you,

  3. John Eden

    So poignant! But that’s you! Yes, it always goes too fast, even when they’re more than half your age, they change and have babies and move on with their lives in what feels like a whirlwind of ungraspable life. …and as you know, that impulse to grasp is what gives us suffering!


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