As I wiped the tears, and snot, and blood from your dirty face I felt the heavy weight of dread in the pitt of my stomach. Your once perfect smile was broken, your front baby tooth jagged where it was once a pristine little square.
Smelling of lavender and wrapped sweetly in your pink princess nightgown, every sign of your fall earlier that day was wiped clean, except for your crooked smile. And while I was grateful that you were unharmed, the crack remained, reminding me of how helpless I really am.
Because even if I stand at the bottom of the slide, waiting to catch you, you can still crash, and bleed, and cry out in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, but hold you and comfort you, and say “I’m sorry.”
And your cracked smile reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how helpless I am in protecting you in this big scary world; it reminds me of how little control I have over my own little world, and it reminds me that no matter how much I fight to keep things pristine, and perfect, and straight, they can become cracked, and crooked, and broken.
I try to control my life, to keep it neat and tidy like a pretty photo, but it doesn’t fit in the neat little frame that I try to package it in. Despite my efforts to make everything just so, reality shatters my plans, leaving a web of cracks on the high polished surface of my life.
But then I look at you in the rearview mirror, with your wide, crack toothed smile like a ray of sunshine, and you say to me “Mommy, I have a new, bigger smile.”
I peer at that smile that is no longer the picture of perfection. And I take a deep breath as the warm sun floods our car and I let a laugh explode from my mouth. I laugh with God, because he is full of so many surprises. I laugh because I am so helpless, and cracked, and yet through HIM I am hopeful and whole. I laugh at you, your fearlessness, your innocence, and your new, bigger, beautiful smile.
I look at the crack in the windshield, that I’ve been meaning to fix, and I smile as I see beams of light refract from it.