My siblings would get so excited when their teeth started to feel loose, because... well... the tooth fairy?
But me? That stupid tooth fairy couldn't pay me enough for my precious little teeth. I knew how things worked. Teeth were supposed to stay in. If I let them come out, then I'd lose all of my teeth and I'd be ugly and it would be impossible to eat chips.
No, no. The teeth must stay in at all costs.
My brothers were tough beyond measure, and somehow bought into the lies my parents told them about grown-up teeth growing in after the baby teeth came out. They begged my dad to get his "bites" (the loving term we still use for his leatherman) and yank out their barely-starting-to-wiggle-a-tiny-bit teeth.
Me on the other hand? I let those teeth hang on until the bitter end. Whenever a tooth came out, it was a dramatic event that included a lot of crying, a lot of stuffing my mouth with tissues, and a lot of lying around dramatically like I was about to die.
I was around seven years old when my wimpyness finally drove my mom to the edge. I had a tooth so loose, it practically wasn't even attached anymore. I could pull it all the way out of my mouth--it was barely holding on by a tiny thread of gum tissue. But, as with my other wiggly teeth, I did not want to let that baby go. So instead of letting my dad pull out his leatherman or, you know, pulling it out myself, I spent my time popping it out of my mouth and sucking it back in in a way that made all adults in my vicinity shudder.
My mom, however, had had about enough of me dangling that tooth out of my mouth and asked me if she could just pull the dang thing out already.
It quickly escalated into Mom chasing me around the house saying, "come on, just let me pull it out! It won't even hurt!" and me screaming bloody murder because I knew I would bleed to death if she even tried.
I'm not quite sure how we ended up on the floor, but we did. Mom was straddling my chest trying to get my tooth out, and I was going ballistic kicking and screaming like a madwoman.
"Just let me get it really quick!" she was saying, reaching out a hand toward my mouth.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" I howled. And then I don't quite remember what I said, but I do remember that it was mouthy and not very nice. Because I was an angel 7-year-old, of course.
Mom didn't waste any time. She just popped me right on the mouth lightly with her hand. Not enough to hurt, but enough to show me she didn't appreciate my attitude.
Out flew my tooth at a surprising velocity. It hit the wall.
We both stared at the tooth for a moment, suddenly silent. Then we looked at each other.
I think it took us 15 minutes to stop laughing.
That is one of my absolute favorite memories of my childhood with my mom. I kid you not, she is superwoman. She beat cancer and ran marathons, all while raising me and my three younger siblings. She let us sneak cookie dough when she was baking cookies, took us to the park almost every day, and taught us to say our prayers before bed every night. She taught me what it means to apologize, to look for God's hand in my life, and to love my family more than anything.
She is the best mother on earth, and I love her for that. Now that I've grown and become a mother myself, she is my best girl friend and my go-to girl for when I have no idea how the heck to take care of a little baby.
And on top of that? She's the best grandma ever to my little boy.
I'm so glad to call her my mom.
Happy Mother's Day!