It hasn't quite been 48 hours since some older, bigger kid at the playground bone-headedly leapt off the top of a play structure directly onto my daughter, resulting in one of my daughter's two front baby teeth being knocked clean out of her mouth.
My daughter is now fine.
I am still verklempt.
I'm sad that the smile I found the most beautiful in the entire world has suddenly been altered. I'm grateful, though, that it hasn't been altered permanently; a quick housecall to our amazing pediatric dentist confirmed there's nothing to worry about. I'm upset that I couldn't stop the accident from happening. And I'm angry at the other kid, even though I didn't see her, nor the accident itself. I was maybe fifteen feet away, back turned, minding my other child and talking to another mom.
My husband, who was standing right there when it happened, could nevertheless do nothing to stop the stupid decision the kid made, nor reverse gravitty. Like me, he was furious at the other kid in the moment, as well as her mom, whom he had to track down. But now that our resilient child has had a visit from the tooth fairy and become a celebrity at preschool, showing off her gap-toothed smile and brandishing a note and cold, hard cash from the aforementioned tooth fairy, my husband is calmer. Last night, he even made a joke about hiring an attorney to beat up the other kid. Me, I'm not laughing yet.
But I am adjusting to the new reality. And taking comfort that things could've been worse but aren't. A rushed trip to the emergency room right after the incident confirmed my little girl had no concussion. She doesn't even have a fat lip or a visible scratch outside her mouth. It's really quite remarkable: baby teeth are designed to pop out, and this one simply did.
It just happened a year-plus sooner than expected, and in a way that wasn't the natural course of things. So instead of me cooing over my daughter's adorable new gaping grin, and cheerfully telling tooth fairy tales, I've had to manufacture my own smile and my good cheer. But the day after the accident made one thing abundantly clear: life goes on, and my little girl isn't missing her tooth; she's too busy having fun.
Her attitude is helping mine. In this case, I freely admit my kid is acting like the adult, while I'm the one still a bit sullen and sad ("She'll go through kindergarten and maybe more missing a front tooth,"), and self-reproaching ("If only I hadn't suggested we go to the park Sunday afternoon ... if only I'd seen that other kid and said something before it happened."). Other parents are helping too. Tales of accidents and missing teeth and even broken limbs are showing up on Facebook and in my email box, as well as reassurance that a)this too will pass, and b)nothing can dim my daughter's cuteness.
Today, as my happy girl trotted off to school clutching that tooth fairy note to show any teacher or kid she didn't get to yesterday, I felt at least some of the icky emotions falling away ... and I started to embrace that this is, after all, part of the gig: stuff happens you can't stop. You can only be there to scoop them up and give them the love they need to heal. Given my daughter's get-on-with-life attitude -- which kicked in pretty fast after the initial shock, trauma and bleeding were over -- I gotta think Late Blooming Mom and Dad are doing something right. She's fine. So we will be, too.
Not really them. They didn't ask to be in a blog. So in the blog, I refer to them as Thing 1 (my son) and Thing 2 ( my daughter). Apologies to Dr. Seuss.
Ten Ways Younger Moms Are Different From Us
1. They get tired. We get exhausted. And we do it before ten a.m.
2. They wash or discard any piece of their kid's food that hits the ground. We practice the ten-second rule: if it wasn't on the ground ten seconds, it's good eatin'.
3.Sometimes we practice the 20-second rule.
4.They still call it a "vacation" when the kids come.
5.Their kids wear pjs. Our kids sleep in their school clothes. It's a helluva time saver in the morning.
6. They make nutritious, home-cooked dinners. We maintain an extensive file of take-out menus.
7. They write holiday letters documenting the family's doings, with hand-written notes to their friends and relatives. We're lucky to get an unsigned photo card in the mail by New Year's.
8. They are perky. We're not. Not even on caffeine. You don't want to know us on caffeine.
9. Their kids wear brand-new, matching outfits. Our kids wear hand-me-downs that saved us a trip to the mall and being the pitied mom whose kid won't leave without throwing a fit because we didn't buy them FILL IN THE BLANK HERE.
10. When given the choice of sex with their partner or sleep, younger moms still choose sex. What's that like?
All of us who came to mom-hood in our mid-30s or 40s. Docs say we're of "advanced maternal age." I say, "Damn right. Before motherhood, I had a life!" Not that I'd trade my kids to get it back ... well, not most days.
Comments welcome, especially from Late Blooming Moms sharing tortured loving tales of what it's like to be us. Whether we're a little -- or a lot -- older than most moms, we're wiser, cooler, hipper, funnier ... or just much better at rationalization.