The girls and I were standing at the front windows yesterday morning watching Jeff try to pull the car out of our steep driveway for the first time since it snowed/iced. I bet he wouldn't make it and would spend another day working from home.
During his second attempt, Cricket held something up to me and said, "Mom, look!"
She had lost her first tooth. And I had a sudden panic. These last five years—these last arduous, sometimes slow-as-molasses five years—had somehow passed too quickly; she may as well have been holding out a college acceptance letter, packing her bags and hopping a plane to her future. It felt like a kick to the stomach.
The look on her face was proud, confused and a little overwhelmed, so I knew I better hold it together for her. After some exclaiming and some confusion over why Nora didn't also have a loose tooth (they still don't really accept that they're not actually twins), we turned back to the window to see that Jeff had made it to the top of the driveway on his third attempt.
The girls were so surprised they started to cry. "We don't want Daddy to go to the office!"
He came inside to say goodbye, but I knew they had him firmly in their grasp between the tears and the lost tooth. Of course he would work from home for one more day.
Jeff went upstairs to work, and we made it through another snow day morning: playtime in the tub, coloring, nail polish, batch #539 of cookies. Then I set them up with a movie and had a good, long cry in the shower. Maybe I wouldn't have been so sentimental if I weren't pregnant, but still. How could it be? There has been so much time I've wished away over the last five years: ear infections (probably 30-40 by now?) and allergic reactions, temper tantrums and a lot of missing my traveling consultant husband. Oh, and vomit. So much vomit. More mine than theirs, because pregnancy and I just don't get along.
But now I was regretting wishing any of it away. Sure it's unrealistic that anyone would savor those especially difficult parenting moments, but I'm finally beginning to understand why all those older ladies stop you in the grocery store to admire your children and say, "Enjoy them while they're young! It goes by too fast." They know something.
That tiny little tooth—hard earned by so many sleepless nights—had my head spinning. All I could think about was how soon the girls' mouths would be filled with adult teeth. That they would both leave home for college within a year of each other. That time had to slow down, or...or...or...
And then something caught my eye: my big, bordering on enormous, belly. And instead of feeling the usual nausea, heartburn and anxiety over how I'll handle three kids when I can't even handle two, I felt relief. We get another shot! Yes, we'll probably make most of the same mistakes this time and wish away more moments than we should, but maybe we'll savor a few more of them this time around too. We've gained a little old lady wisdom for ourselves by now.
Somehow this line of thought made it feel like I just might be able to accept that Cricket is of tooth-losing age, with Nora hot on her heels, and it's okay. Not only okay, but exciting. I just never realized as a kid how many tears were probably hiding behind my parents' smiles with every milestone my sisters and I hit along the way.
After pulling myself together and eating almost all of cookie batch #539, we went outside to take some celebratory photos before the 60-degree sunshine melted the rest of the snow. No matter how fast they grow and change, may these girls always remain thick and thieves. And may this new little one only add to the strength of their posse.
Check out my Instagram @jsoplop for more snow day photos.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.