Yesterday my youngest child lost his last baby tooth. And last night as I lay in bed, waiting for the house to fall asleep around me, I thought about the Tooth Fairy. For more than 10 years, the Tooth Fairy has been visiting our dark, quiet, sleeping house, leaving behind her neatly folded bills and little packages of quarters. And while she hasn't always been perfect, I'm so going to miss her.
There was the time the Tooth Fairy got caught in a storm in the Midwest and wasn't able to reach my daughter's pillow before she woke for school. Luckily we forgot my daughter's backpack at home that day. When we returned home to retrieve it, we discovered that the Tooth Fairy had been there in the interim and had left a lovely note explaining the circumstances of her delay.
Another time, the Tooth Fairy made it to our house and left her gift of money, but neglected to take my son's tooth. We decided that the Tooth Fairy had a helper that night who wasn't used to finding a tiny tooth beneath a pillow. My son didn't mind because he got an extra dollar when the Tooth Fairy came back for the tooth the next night.
And finally, there was the morning when my son and I were devastated to discover that the Tooth Fairy had completely forgotten to visit our house. After the initial shock, we reasoned that although she was magic, and despite her best intentions, the Tooth Fairy occasionally made mistakes. We decided to forgive her (much easier for my son) and try again. Sure enough, she came the next night and left twice her usual gift, much to my son's delight.
Late last night, I crept into my son's bedroom to check on him and I sat on the floor in the dark listening to him breathe. I thought I would be overwhelmed with sadness that this chapter of our lives was coming to a close, but mostly I felt grateful. Grateful for my three beautiful and amazing children. Grateful for the opportunity to experience motherhood with all its joys, and yes, its sorrows. And grateful that although childhood may be fleeting, the memories can last a lifetime.