Precious Time

mealex(Alex and me in Colorado, July 2015)

Alex had her wisdom teeth removed last week, just a few days after we returned from Colorado. It’s something she needed to do before college, and since she still has a couple of weeks before she leaves, this was the time to do it.

I was ill prepared for two things during the course of the whole experience. One was the procedure itself. For some reason, I had in my head that this would a long, drawn out ordeal that took at least a couple of hours in the oral surgeon’s office. In fact, after I said goodbye to Alex following our consultation with the doctor, I was ready to set off into the city for awhile and mark a few things off my to-do list. “Do you want to just call me when she’s ready?” I asked the nice person behind the front desk. “I’ll be in the general vicinity and will keep my phone close!”

“Oh, ma’am,” the nice person said, slightly shaking her head. “You can’t leave.”

In an instant, I was transported back to the time I shattered the doughnut case and, after reaching for the glass-covered apple fritter, was told by the nice clerk at the store, “Oh, ma’am…you can’t have a doughnut now.”

*Shudder*

Anyway, I apologized for misunderstanding, then parked myself in the waiting room and readied myself for the long, drawn out wait. But then, less than twenty minutes later, Alex was ready! And I swear, within six minutes we were back in the car headed to the Wendy’s location down the street, where the nurse had told us we should get a Frosty because the sugar would make Alex feel better. Alex was completely anesthetized and we had some funny moments in the car on the way home involving her trying to tip the Frosty into her mouth (this doesn’t work, in case any of you have ever wondered) and her waking back up just as I was taking a huge bite of my bacon cheeseburger, which sent her into a tailspin because she hadn’t gotten to eat all day. Oh, and there was the whole conversation in which she insisted that God (gauze) lives in heaven, not in her mouth, after I suggested we change it out. But that’s another story for another time.

Once back home, I helped her into the house, tucked her into the comfy sofa downstairs so she’d be closer to me, and started the several-day process of caring for her during the rough recovery that follows a wisdom tooth (or teeth, in this case) extraction.

And here’s the other thing I was ill-prepared for, the thing that actually threw me for a loop: The heart-wrenching emotion that would arise. In an instant, in a flash last Wednesday morning, Alex became a baby again. She was helpless and vulnerable and dependent, and I was in the position of being attentive to her every need. I fed her soft foods, talked to her with a soft, soothing baby voice, and checked on her through the night. It all became real to me the day following her procedure, when her hunger really set in but she couldn’t identify anything she could eat that sounded good. I began rattling off possibilities: Mashed potatoes? Applesauce? Oatmeal? Soft green beans? But nothing really hit the spot.

Then out of the blue, I smiled, looked at Alex, and said “Skosh?”

“Skosh” is butternut squash, which was Alex’s favorite baby food for a long, long time when she was little. I called it “skosh” back then (as in, “Ready for some skosh, Baby Awex?”) and last week, as a possible post-wisdom tooth food option, it rolled off my tongue effortlessly. But as soon as I said it—you guessed it—my tears started to roll. It hit me like a ton of bricks that my baby was a baby again, if only for a short period of time, and that I was getting one last chance to mother her in this unique, tender way just before she leaves for college.

Skosh didn’t sound good to Alex either, by the way. But she noticed my tears, even through her grogginess, and rested her hand on mine.

She has slowly gotten better and is almost back to normal today. At first, as I was wrestling with the emotion of it all, I couldn’t figure out if this time together was a blessing or pure torture.

Ultimately, I decided it’s been a blessing. A gift. A special sliver of time in which I had the privilege of experiencing Alex as a baby again. And even though she was in pain and discomfort during it, she had me all to herself. And yes, I’m always her mom, and she always has me when she needs me, yada yada yada…but this was different. I’m so glad we got to seal our eighteen years together with this concentrated time of mother-daughter communion.

It’s been precious.

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