When you were small and cutting teeth and sad and frantic I’d pull you closer and let you nap near, tucked into my arm with your body tracing mine. We’d lay there for the hours of your afternoon nap, nursing when you whined. Your older brothers camping out next to us with books and Legos and snacks. Snuggled down, chores on the back burner, closeness was what mattered.
That is where we are this afternoon. The sun is shining brightly outside and I want to be out in the garden or at the park, but with your two top front teeth coming through that is not an option for today. You do not want to be worn in a wrap, you do not want to be carried. You want to be held close in a warm airy cotton sheet in the comfort of the bed where you sleep each night, with the filtered sunshine and the spinning ceiling fan that cools the fever that came with your two new teeth.
I see this day for what it is. A rough day to follow yesterday’s easy one. A rough day to lead the way for a tomorrow that is easier for you. A day where I put my stuff on hold and hold you close so that tomorrow you’ll be ready to be yourself again.
Your bad days are rough for both of us, but they pass by easier when I snuggle you close and count the moments as blessings rather than obstacles.
Those teeth hurt. I know. And when you hurt you have no context for how long that hurting will go on for. Closeness reassures you and eases your discomfort more effectively than ibuprofen or acetaminophen, more than teething tablets, more than gripe water, more than ice or gel-filled teethers.
Your instincts tell you to seek out my closeness when you are in pain. And you listen. I should listen too.
I understand how quickly your tooth will come out. How short your pain will be. I can understand that you have no context for any of this, while I do. I can give you what you need for these few months when your little mouth hurts and keeps you awake and makes you cling closely. I know how quickly this time will pass. I know how long it will be.
Parents often say that they’d take the pain for their own rather than see their child suffer. I can’t take the ouch of your teeth. But I can hold you near and listen to your needs while you endure these growing pains and learn of context and scale and of how all things pass.
I know this. All things pass. And I can show you this too by letting that time pass while I hold you near each moment even when I have things that I want to get done, even when I crave a minute for myself.
I can endure this wait along with you. I can snuggle you near and we can pass this time closer rather than further apart.