Going Dental

"WHAT?" I bounded from the couch. "A tooth?"

"Oh yeah," Nate said. "I totally forgot to tell you. I noticed it yesterday,"

"You forgot to tell me that her first tooth was coming in? How could you forget that?"

He shrugged. "Just forgot."

I grabbed the baby from his lap and slid my finger between her lips. There it was, a single unmistakable shard erupting from her lower gums.

"I heard it clank against the glass of water yesterday," he said.

"I just can't believe you didn't say something."

"I'm telling you now. She has a tooth. There you go."

It blows me away how offhanded Nate can be sometimes. When Thalia has a first of any kind, I'm on the phone yapping about it in an obscene amount of detail: First time eating solids, first time surviving a fall off the bed, first time wearing her President Poopyhead t-shirt. No matter how insignificant, every milestone is conveyed to my speed dial list with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for accomplishments like first Super Bowl ring. Or first walk on Mars without a helmet.

Between calls, my time is spent shaking my head in the baby's direction, tears pooling in my eyes as I repeatedly whisper, "I can't believe it. Your whole fist in your mouth. I just can't believe it."

Rest assured I'm not one of those mothers. You know, the ones who think their child is the first in the world to grow hair. And wouldn't you know it, she just went and grew that hair better than any other child ever could have given the chance.

I also assure you I'm not bragging.

I'm not.

Shut up.

Okay, a little. Sometimes. But mainly what I am is awestruck.

When I relate one of Thalia's firsts, I feel more like an amazed observer than a parent with some sort of stake in the matter. So if I say, "Oh my God, Thalia said ga!" what I'm really saying is, "Oh my God, a four month-old child is capable of saying ga. Who knew?" The fact that it is my four month-old child is almost beside the point.

I've tried to step back and assess what accounts for my disproportionate excitement for the whole child development process, especially since Nate teases me about it to no end. I'm certain it stems from a long-held tenet that I might never have children.

For a good long time, procreation was a distant second to career accomplishments and friendships and passionate one-night stands with cinematographers and handwritten thank you notes from the gay shoe salesmen at Jeffrey (if not the cinematographers). Even into my thirties, that life was satisfying enough. Then I met Nate. Sweet, soulful, amazing Nate, the first boyfriend ever to perceive in me what no other had:

He told me that I would make a good mother.

It's amazing how sometimes we cannot see all of our potential until someone else--someone who hardly even knows us at all--turns our heads and forces us to confront it.

Even now, eight months after I waddled out of my hospital bed for a diaper-changing lesson from Nate, I continue to be dumbstruck at my capacity to mother. I am still processing the fact that I grew a human being in my body for nearly forty-two weeks, then ejected her into the world where she continues to grow, right in front of my eyes. Thalia's firsts are my firsts too.

So if you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a call from me and I'm squealing, "Thalia clapped!" or "Thalia fed herself!" or "Thalia figured out how to rewire the cable box so we get Showtime for free!"--just know I'm not looking for praise. I'm not expecting you to suggest that she is gifted and destined to complete her dual masters before she is old enough to drink.

I'm simply asking for you to pinch me and tell me that this is all real.

Did I mention that Thalia has her first tooth coming in?


Blogger MrsFortune said...

Hey I'm with Nicole. Why can't you be happy because it's YOUR kid and not just some developmental milestone??? I mean, you wouldn't be so jacked if it were my kid ... :) Which is FINE because I'm responsible for being jacked over my kid. It's some sort of evolutionary mechanism, I think.

3/13/06, 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOO HOO for the first tooth! Now, let the fun begin!

3/13/06, 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First tooth for us was, oh, 10 years ago. Don't remember exactly when. Do remember exactly where I was when the teeth drew blood from my nipple, tho', since I nursed him until he was almost 3. That "first" is something you will never forget. Another in the parenting series: "what Dad's cannot know."

Thanks for visiting my blog. When they were small and humble and charming and very, very Minnesota.

3/13/06, 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When they were small and humble and charming and very, very Minnesota"

is a fragment of the sentence that should have started with "Yes, indeed, I was a proud employee of the now-mega-uber-agency FM, now just F, I suppose ..."

3/13/06, 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it's so fun to celebrate those firsts. And like you, I am always amazed at the developmental milestones -- I didn't have a lot of experience with kids before having my own (just a wee bit of babysitting) so everytime one of my girls learns something new I'm just awestruck. It's the neatest thing.

3/13/06, 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a first this morning, too, and I was on the phone, gleaming about it. My middle child(dog) finally lost her puppiness enough to not come out of her kennel first thing in the morning. She wanted to sleep in just like the oldest child(dog).

Ok - so not quite the same thing. But a gushing mother. ;)

Congrats on being a wonderful mother. :)

3/13/06, 9:16 AM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

All those firsts are sweet, precious baby magic that you want to remember forever. And for me,it was scary when I realized that the list of accomplishments was growing so long and fast that I didn't remember the second word or the third tooth. Sigh. Write it all down because truly it goes by too fast.

3/13/06, 9:45 AM  
Blogger Lumpyheadsmom said...

heh heh, President Poopyhead.

3/13/06, 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let anyone ever take away your excitement. Firsts are fabulous - especially in our house, since I can't believe she's made it to be almost 2. This coming from someone who never thought sex was for anything but um... sex.

Congrats - and aren't you glad you weaned? :)

3/13/06, 9:55 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

That was so cute. I have four kids, the firsts that became fourths just aren't so amazing anymore. Or maybe it's because I don't have time to notice them now.
Enjoy that baby, she is darn adorable!

3/13/06, 10:38 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

First baby firsts rock. You are not alone in your Brilliant Baby club. There are many more mommies and daddies with you. Enjoy them. By the time the second and third babies come along, the novelty has passed and you have to remind yourself what a blessing it is. Your speed dial won't be quite so speedy.

I'm outing myself today. Thanks for all your kind words.

3/13/06, 10:49 AM  
Blogger the stefanie formerly known as stefanierj said...

Oh, hear, hear. I get almost as excited about D's friends' accomplishments as his own, so share away and know there's someone else out here who's excited for ya, pumping her fist in the air, hooting encouragement.

3/13/06, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Embrace the firsts! Share the firsts! Shout them from the virtual rooftops! 'Cause who better to appreciate your fascination and glee than other mommies going through the exact same thing?

3/13/06, 12:19 PM  
Blogger Carolyn S. said...

Your creation, your achievement. Your daughter has a beautiful name to go with her beautiful face.

3/13/06, 12:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I know what you mean. My little guy is almost 4 and even know I look at him in awe more often than not and think to myself, "I have my very own little boy!"

Its so facinating to realize they share your genetics, yet are their very own person.

3/13/06, 1:06 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Great post. Archer has two teeth now. They popped up in the last week and I am obsessed with them. Going dental on the westside. :)

3/13/06, 1:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

that truly is an achievement. my boy was a toothless wonder until he was 13 months! he really got sick of my constantly prizing his jaw open to check progress. now he's 3.5, i have to think "hmmmm, when did i last have him brush his teeth..." and then being deeply disturbed because i cannot remember, at all..

3/13/06, 1:47 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Lovely post. I think you captured the emotions of a first time mother very well. I remember feeling many of those same things. Children are truly a wonder. It's the people who *don't* think their kid hung the moon that I worry about. Sounds to me like you definitely got the mommy gene. :?)

3/13/06, 2:22 PM  
Blogger Shalee said...

Boast away woman! Your girl deserves all the glory you can give her. If you don't do it, who will? Not Nate from what you told us...

Just wait until you reach the potty training stage. You're blog will be full of **** then! (And we'll still love to read it!)

3/13/06, 2:50 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I was away from the computer for a few days and missed so many of your entertaining posts! John Cusack and the Violent Femmes and President Poopyhead, OH MY! But if enough people haven't already convinced you of this: you can blog about new teeth and crap doctors and John Cusack all you want. We're here for you, Babe.

3/13/06, 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gawd, isn't it the truth?

When my girls were babies, I'm sure I was overheard remarking how their farts were in perfect pitch.

If not us moms, who?

3/13/06, 4:50 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

It's part of the job description of being a mom - you get to dance around and brag about your child's milestones.

Congrats on the first tooth!

3/13/06, 5:23 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Sweatpants Mom: Aw, yours too?

3/13/06, 6:59 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

First, Thalia is ADORABLE!!! Second, I loved this post. It was funny, it was sweet, it was everything a post should be. :)

My husband will be photographing our future children BY THE HOUR. ("Here you are at 8 am on March 16, 2008. Here you are at 9 am--look, you're yawning!") I guarantee it.

3/13/06, 8:43 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I felt that way about nursing too. Like "HEY THESE THINGS HAVE A PURPOSE!! LOOK EVERYONE! SEE WHAT THEY CAN DO!"

Now Emily will yell at me for not giving her enough "privacy" in the bathroom and I get to smile and say "I've wiped that bum more times than I can count"

3/13/06, 8:52 PM  
Blogger Table4Five said...

Thalia really is a cutie! And you should absolutely rejoice about first teeth and "ga" and everything else. My first son's baby book has every sound he ever made written down-"this month you can say eh and ah and uh". Like you, I had no idea what babies were capable of having never touched one until the day my oldest was born.

I love this line-"It's amazing how sometimes we cannot see all of our potential until someone else--someone who hardly even knows us at all--turns our heads and forces us to confront it." Excellent.

3/13/06, 8:54 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Men are idiots - there is simply no other explanation. Period.

3/13/06, 9:11 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

A tooth. Yippie! One step closer to those fajitas.

Sounds like you're not losing sleep due to teething. Lucky you!

3/13/06, 9:50 PM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

Liz, I loved this post. Mine are 5 yrs and almost 9 months so I've been there already and I'm there again right along with you. Awestruck is the perfect word for it. And the best part is...it never stops.

Yay for first teeth (Go Thalia!) and yay for Nate! He sounds pretty awesome, too.

3/13/06, 11:21 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Yeah right. Admit it. You think your baby is the most AMAZING baby in the WHOLE WORLD. I know because I've been there. And the first step in battling this addiction is admitting you have it in the first place. ;)

3/13/06, 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a great post, but while many have commented on it, no one's mentioned your great accompanying images. That monkey poster is perfect!

Though they do tempt me to scan this post a second time, for veiled Communist propaganda...

3/14/06, 12:41 AM  
Blogger *Tanyetta* said...

Pinch. It's all real. There's more to come. Hold on for the ride!

I loved this post. I can totally relate. It's your responsibility to be her cheerleader! with that said.......shout it to the world. we're listening!

oh did i mention that my kid can throw stuff in the trash on cue. LOL

3/21/06, 8:46 PM  

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