As I wiped the tears, and snot, and blood from her dirty face I felt the heavy weight of dread in the pitt of my stomach. Her once perfect smile was broken, the front baby tooth jagged where it was once a pristine little square.

Smelling of lavender and wrapped sweetly in her pink princess nightgown, every sign of my daughter’s fall earlier that day was wiped clean, except for her crooked smile. And while I was grateful that she was 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 her, my little girl can still crash, and bleed, and cry out in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, except hold her and comfort her, and say “I’m sorry.”

Her cracked smile reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how helpless I am in protecting my baby 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 her intent blue eyes and bobbing blonde head in the rearview mirror,  her wide, crack toothed smile like a ray of sunshine, and she says 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 my daughter’s fearlessness, her innocence, and her 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.