growing pains

Earlier this week Tess lost another tooth.
And there is something about gaps in my kid’s smile that tug at my heart.  A gap that will be filled with a tooth slightly too big for their five year old face. Adult teeth look so funny on a little kid and it takes years to grow into them. When I say Tess lost her tooth, I do not mean she wiggled it out and tucked it snugly beneath her pillow for the tooth fairy to trade out with a dollar bill. I mean she lost it at the bottom of the swimming pool.  She was excited about the tooth, but sad that she had nothing to show for it. I assured her that the tooth fairy would be just as happy to take a drawing of her tooth. That the exchange rate for real and drawn teeth were exactly the same.  She was not so sure and drew 3 teeth just in case. Or was possibly hoping for 3X the payout.

I remember snooping through my parents drawers as a kid and finding a few baby teeth. These baby teeth both fascinated and disgusted me. Even more gross than holding on to baby teeth, I had a friend growing up whose mother saved her umbilical cord after it fell off.  Those cords are smelly and scabby and I couldn’t wait for my own babies to lose theirs and have it replaced with a perfect little outie belly button. I do, however, understand the concept of holding on to things that should have long been let go.
Like baby teeth and things that tether us, we are meant to lose them so that we can grow. 
New teeth and new ties.

Like my daughter, I love to grow but I struggle to let go. 
She asks me at least once a week to measure her against the door frame. In the summer I read almost a book a day. My brain grows, but mysteriously my pants seem to shrink.
Sometimes at night my daughter wakes up crying and saying that her legs hurt. I rub them, beg her to get back to sleep and just tell her that she must be growing.
And that sometimes growing hurts.

The summer is coming to an end and I am finally getting around to cleaning out closets. The shorts and swimsuits my kids have worn this season will not fit again next summer so I add them to the give away pile. My son hardly notices, but Tess pulls out some of her favorite items saying that she loves the dress with the horses on it and that I can NOT give away her favorite dress. I tell her that the only way she can wear that dress now is as a shirt.  Sometimes growing means letting go of the things that used to fit you. But don’t anymore. As far as I know I have never woken up with aching legs. The only kind of growing pains I remember starred Kirk Cameron, but I know the kind that feel more like an ache in your chest. Or a fear so big you have to remind yourself to breathe.

I cleaned out my own closet this week as well and it is the same but for different reasons. Things that used to fit. But don’t. And sometimes even coming to terms with the fact that I will likely never ever fit into those jeans again and it is time to let them go. And of course it isn’t just my pants. There are people and habits that don’t fit anymore that I have held on to for far too long. Things I keep holding on to because they are easy and comfortable and I somehow convinced myself that it was a part of me. That these less than flattering traits were just who I am.  Not something I need to yank out and toss.  Partly because I don't have the patience to work at it or I worry a bit about the gap that they will leave. Habits and unhealthy relationships, like teeth are rarely easily lost. My daughter has wiggled and worked that tooth for weeks now until it was so loose she didn’t even notice when it finally slipped out and fell to the bottom of the pool. 
Like my daughter’s baby teeth. And her aching legs. 
Growth sometimes hurts, takes work and can leave a bit of an empty space until something more mature takes its place.

I am reminded how quickly she grows when I see a gap in her smile. Or pants that suddenly look more like capris. Or even when I am woken up at 2 am to rub her legs. Again.
And it will remind me to do the same.
To lose something.
To do the work.
To let go. 
To clean out more than just my closet.

Now, if only I could get someone to leave money under my pillows….

(This is my favorite band of the moment. listen. love.)