First Blood

The Boy and the Angelic Husband were sitting in the den, watching cartoons, while I cooked dinner. The Boy has been especially ornery the last few days, as he has two teeth ripping through his upper gum at once. I can’t remember what it was like to cut my own baby teeth, but I can only imagine that it is akin to the feeling of having your braces tightened, where every slight movement of the mouth, face, jaw, and tongue ache horribly, but with the addition of having no idea why it is that your mouth hurts so bad, but knowing that you are most definitely REALLY PISSED OFF ABOUT IT.

A baby cuttin’ teeth (which is what Southern babies do, rather than “teething,”) is a bundle of nerves and muscle and bone, ready to collapse in tears and tantrums at the slightest frustration. A baby cuttin’ teeth will not be able to fit a square block through a circular hole and it will be the absolute end of the world. A mother comes to know the sound of this particular type of tantrum, the cuttin’ teeth tantrum, and accordingly, takes the proper amount of time to walk around the corner from the kitchen to the family room and check on said baby.

But there is another kind of scream that emits from a baby: a blood-curdling, turn-your-veins-to-ice, make-the-hair-on-your-arms-and-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-on-end kind of scream. And that was the scream that I heard coming from the den last night as I cooked dinner. I shot around the corner into the den like a bullet, even though my Angelic Husband was there with him, because that is what mothers do.

My Angelic Husband had scooped him up into his arms and was soothing The Boy, and said, “He’s okay. He just slipped and conked his chin on the coffee table.”

But I knew that scream was different. I knew that scream was a little too “turned up” to be the result of a simple chin conked on the coffee table. I looked more closely at his face and there it was: The first trickle of blood from my baby boy.

Turns out that he had bitten his tongue with his only two teeth (lower center ones) and his tongue was bleeding. He continued to cry, we wiped the blood from him as it came over his lips, and I felt surprise when the tears welled up in my own eyes. We gave him ice water in a sippy cup and the bleeding soon stopped.

The Boy is fine now, but I don’t know if his mother is. It is difficult to glimpse that little bit of his pain and his blood and know that I must be prepared to see it over and over as he learns the things that come easily to me and my Angelic Husband: Walking, running, climbing stairs, riding a bike, learning to water-ski or snowboard, participate in sports.

I realize a little more every day what it is to be a Mother, and what it is my fearlessness and recklessness must have meant to my own Mother every day. I realize that to love is to fear and that there is no going back to the innocence of not knowing this never-ending fear. And I realize that I would not have it any other way.


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