Finding Hope and Lost Teeth

“You want to play basketball with us?” With a bouncy ball in hand, Isaac lifts his arm poised to throw as he waits for my response.

“Yes! I’ll play with you.” With nowhere to go, there’s nothing I’d rather do than play with my children.

“Throw it to me!” Charlotte cheers and extends her hands towards Isaac. With a quick throw, far more powerful than you’d expect from a 2.5 year old, the ball soars over Charlotte’s head into the grass.

After a few days of clouds the sun shining is a welcome gift. It hasn’t even been a week since we’ve camped inside our house forgoing all activities, school, speech, and get togethers. For the foreseeable future, we’re in our home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

I can’t help but feel like the virus, this raging image I have in my mind, is all around me. I obsessively yell at the kids to keep their hands out of their mouths. Not an easy task when your toddler is a thumb-sucker. I fear a trip to the grocery store or take-out food that may carry the virus within the packaging. I feel my shoulders tense and my heart race when scrolling endlessly and refreshing the news, watching the number of cases and deaths rise.

But outside under the sun and blue skies my fears are interrupted by the ball flying all over our driveway and yard. Charlotte can’t stop smiling and laughing. I watch her run to the ball and notice her crooked-teeth smile and a spot of blood.

“Come here, Charlotte, let me look at your mouth.” I ask.

Hesitantly she covers her mouth, “No, I’m fine.”

“I know you’re fine, I just want to see your teeth.” She’s had two loose teeth on the bottom and her adult teeth growing in behind them. Once we get a look, reluctantly by Charlotte, we see blood on the gums and decide it’s time to pull one of the teeth.

I leave it to Stephen to do the honor and it doesn’t take long before Charlotte comes out of the bathroom smiling proudly carrying her first lost tooth like a prized gem. “Look, Mama!”

Between her smile, the care in which she’s holding her tooth, and the joy I feel for this milestone, I almost forget about the fear holding me down.

I think back to this past Christmas when three out of four of our household came down with the flu, missing worship and any semblance of our traditional holiday celebrations. By the time I rang in the New Year, slowly gaining my strength and energy, I felt hopeful for the creative ideas swirling in my mind.

I resolved that this would be the year to get the book I had been dreaming about on paper. The stirrings of my heart have been nudging me to write, to put words down and see where they lead. Last November I spent the month writing everyday on the same topic, the stories I hoped would someday become a book.

In January, I signed up for a writing intensive class with a writer I admire and began the hard work of naming my dreams and putting the ideas and words together more coherently, but perhaps most importantly naming that which was on my heart: writing a book. With three months in I’ve put in the work: brainstorming, outlining, revisiting journals, reading, editing, and putting chapters together. That is, until the last few weeks. The thoughts that previously were swirling in my head have transformed into fear and worry, doubt, and an inability to focus.

I see Charlotte’s tooth and the new one right behind it, staring me right in the face, reminding me that sometimes we have to pull out that which is no longer needed in order to see what is truly there. I see Charlotte’s care for the tooth as she places it in a small pillow, the same one used by her daddy and aunt. I see the anticipation for the tooth fairy’s visit and the magic she believes in.

What can I pull out of my life right now?
Where can I find hope amidst the fear?
What magic can I find?

I keep imagining this coronavirus swirling around me suffocating me and my loved ones, but there’s something else more powerful swirling around me too - hope.

The hope of words and stories yet to be unearthed. The hope of blue skies and sun. The hope of my children’s laughter. The hope of our resilience as a people, nation, and world. The hope of neighbors checking in on neighbors. The hope of an empty garden waiting for the earth to be turned and seeds to be planted.

I have no doubt that the next few months will continue to test me and bring me to my knees in fear and stress, but I’d like to remain open to pulling back those fears and letting a new way of living, and perhaps some magic, come through.

**This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "All Things New".

**All Things New Photo Credit: @pheonixfeatherscalligraphy for C+C, 2020