I’m in the middle of a very normal, adult phone conversation with Dominic, the kind that usually involves trying to scrounge up a plan for dinner, when I gasp. Lorelei is busily munching and slathering on my fingers (again, the usual), but something is unmistakably different. I can feel a tooth!
I relay the discovery to my other half in the kind of tone reserved for witnessing Ewan McGregor dropping down from the ceiling and smirking a suave “Hello there”. He can’t quite believe me, asks if I’m sure. We hang up, I swing my little girl into my arms and feel tears bite the corners of my eyes. I admit to her that I can’t believe it either.
It’s been a time for everything starting to happen at once in Lori’s development. She wants to walk and run before she can so much as crawl (though she’s frustratingly close) even trying to fly from me to her daddy on kicking propellor legs when he comes home. Now I peek into her mouth to see not just the one tooth, but two. It’s started. The first physical sign that she’ll soon need me less and less, the adventure of weaning just beginning. But more on that another day.
As she grinned and giggled into her daddy’s kisses a few nights ago, a sudden feeling of jealous frustration came over me. “She’s only a baby but I already feel like I’m nothing to her,” I said. I later corrected myself, “I feel like she already takes me for granted.”
To rational me, it’s understandable. She sees me all day every day while her dad heads off to work early and gets home an hour before bedtime. Because, to our growing and ever more mobile girl, 6:30pm is practically the witching hour. But to am-I-even-doing-this-right, flustered, flying by the seat of my pants me, it’s a cruel rift between wanting to give her everything and sometimes failing, while her gaze is already out at the wider world.
There’s something I must remember in all this. My task and my privilege as a mother is to show my baby girl that there is a world of wonder and adventure out there for her. Cutting her first teeth is one step on the way to being able to explore it to the fullest. And I am so, so lucky to watch it all happen every day, as I wait for her to need some comfort, some nourishment, somewhere safe from the awe of it all. At the end of every day – for now, at least – she will always need me.