toothlessOne moment everything seemed fine and the next I was creating a little puddle of tears on my Yogasana mat.

I emerged from the yogasana pose to find unexpected sobs bursting through my throat, catching me completely unawares. A little part of my mind wondered what this was all about. And then I realized this was probably because of a niggling dissonance within, a reaction to a new milestone in my son’s growth that had not yet been completely accepted or acknowledged. This is what had led to the sudden grey cloud near the heart, that burst through as tears.

This morning, as Abhishek, my son, was having his breakfast before leaving for school, he called out to me saying that there seemed to be a gap between his two lower incisors. I touched a tooth and immediately found it was loose. The milk tooth would soon fall. We grinned and Abhi told me about how Kirti, his school mate, already had two teeth missing. I thought of a couple of his other friends, senior to him by a year, wearing gap-toothed smiles with part-embarrassment, part -pride. Now he would be a part of that gang too.

As we waited at the bus-stop for his school bus, we talked of the concept of the tooth-fairy. We both agreed that the concept was “cute”. I bid him bye, returned home and resumed my morning chores.

But somewhere in the heart, deep, deep down, the unarticulated thought had arrived – our little baby is about to lose his baby teeth. How did the years fly by so fast? And that would have been the genesis of the tears.

The innocence and unsullied grace of childhood are truly magical and seem long-lasting. But the pace of change and growth can actually be so rapid, that the heart can seem overwhelmed. Scarcely does a new milestone–a habit, a skill, or a new activity–set in, than the “Finish” line for that zooms forward, and before one knows it, it is time to say goodbye to yet another phase of one’s child’s growing years.

So much to cherish and so little time! It seems like it was only yesterday that I was rhapsodizing over Abhishek’s four new, shiny little teeth and feeling nostalgic about toothless, gummy smiles. And now it’s time for those very teeth to go!

“So what?”, one may wonder. A purely practical approach to this whole thing would be that his physical growth is going on fine and that I ought to be feeling reassured!

But to me it seems to be much more than that. His shaky little tooth tells me a lot of things. It reminds me that he is growing up quickly and that the only mandate I have been given from the Universe is to give him love, pure and unadulterated, intense and in every moment. It shows me the passage of the seasons of time – the travails of toddler-hood have given way to heart-touchingly earnest attempts at responsibility for this sweet-yet-solemn almost-six-year-old.

But most of all, the tooth reminds me that “this too shall pass!”

So must change be heralded by tears? Not at all. Something tells me that some of the tears were tears of regret, for all those “Not now please, I am busy” moments, when I allowed temporary realities to hijack my energies away from the greater priority of sharing my time and care with him.

Those moments are irretrievable and all I can hope is that this tooth has taught me a valuable learning. And then there were a few tears of concerns: am I ready to guide him right as he reaches a new phase of growth? As ready as I will ever be, I guess.

And then there were tears of joy: my little one, darling creature of the Universe, is growing up.

Motherhood seems like a permanent stage of “Work in Progress”. There is no “Finished Product”, just a heart that smiles, cries, is pulled and stretched and learns to give some more.

This is an original guest post from Piya Mukherjee in Mumbai, India; Mother, Corporate Trainer, Director.

The image used in this post is attributed to Stephanie Sicore of Young@Art. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

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