Tuesday, March 6, 2007
the road to hell is paved with good intentions. the gutters are filled with guilt.
hi, were you looking for me yesterday? i didn't post because i was on vacation. yep, i took a little trip to guiltville. have you been there? it's a densely populated town just north of parenthood. it is to mothers what
p-town is to gays and lesbians.

while i was there, i stayed in the not good enough motel and visited the hall of shame pavilion. i went for the free breakfast and almost bought a time share.

my guilt trip began on saturday, at the dentist's office.

sophie has cavities. two of them. we noticed them in july and missed our appointment because we were dealing with stomach flu. don't know where the other eight months have gone when i should have had her in the dentist's chair. shame on me.

anyway, last week at the dinner table sophie mentioned that she had a bump on her gum. i looked at it and lo and behold she had a big bump right at her gum line. so, after looking up phrases like "dental boil" and "lump on gum" we read enough medical mumbo-jumbo to decide right then and there to make a dental appointment, no more putting it off.

my husband helped me get both kids settled at the dentist and kept an eye on them while i filled out paperwork before he went off to his own medical appointment. we were called in and i immediately knew bringing both kids for this visit was a bad idea.

the office is in the middle of a move. harry wouldn't sit down. sophie kept talking to him. the room was small, so there was no place for harry to stay except on the world's most uncomfortable stool and he hated it. i explained what was going on with her teeth and the bumps and everything seemed to be going well. then the dentist was all "oh my, haven't you been flossing this child's teeth? what is this? this is terrible. just terrible." while the hygenist took xrays the dentist, who i really do believe has sophie's best interests at heart, pulled me aside and pointed to all her bullet points on sophie's chart as to why i am a terrible mother. i don't floss her teeth as regularly as i should. i skipped the appointment for the fillings. sophie has two, count 'em two, abscesses, they tried contacting me several times but i won't take their calls (this one point is debatable but whatever), she needs to eat better. her teeth are very closely spaced and i must floss her teeth. all this while harry was ramming into my leg and fake fainting on the hallway floor. and crying. and whining. did i mention i don't floss my daughter's teeth? because that is a big bone of contention with the dentist and i ought to point it out in case you, too, would like to find fault with me.

when i left office i was steaming. i was seething. i was mad. my husband, who is not a girlfriend or a mother, didn't know what to say to me so i left and went for a walk. somewhere between cvs and the wine store i realized i was not mad at the dentist i was mad at myself.

mad that i didn't do the right thing and blew off eight months of decaying tooth enamel. mad that after growing a child inside for 38 weeks and breastfeeding her for eight months to give her the best start in life, i'd failed her and let her teeth rot. mad at myself for letting another person make me feel like a bad mom.

then i got mad at myself for being mad at myself. how's that for complex emotional despair? i spent all day saturday and most of sunday analyzing myself and came to the following conclusion: i'm doing the best i can with what i have to work with. period.

in eight months, i was actually very busy doing crazy things like dealing with a five year old who watched two very good friends move far away. one move devastated her so badly i ended up seeing a counselor through our employee assistance program at work because i was at my wit's end. i was also working and enjoying a little success that's been 12 years in the making. my husband, through no fault of his own, puts a lot of hours in at work so most nights, i'm in charge of two kids after working all day. i run myself ragged on the weekends stocking up for the coming week so we can eat home cooked meals everyday. there's laundry. and the fun we're supposed to be having and the quality time. there's homework, baths, dying pets, girl scouts, the terrible twos, family to see. somewhere in between i'm supposed to eat right and exercise thirty minutes a day. i haven't had a haircut in almost a year and my cuticles are ragged. i have acne, gray hair and fine lines around my eyes a the same time. and i'm supposed to floss everyday. everyday!

don't even get me started on things i ought worry about as a concerned citizen. there is a pit in my stomach reserved for global warming alone.

these are not excuses. but there was no reason for the dentist to lecture me (or, to give her the benefit of the doubt, come off as judgmental). i'm already my harshest critic.


Anonymous MOM said...

Yes i did miss your blog yesterday. No i am not pitying you as you put it, but i am concerned. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. THERE IS NO NEED FOR YOU TO FEEL GUILTY. You are the best mom there is that i know of and you do so very much without so much as a complaint. Don't forget, I did not floss your teeth, hell i didn't even floss my own teeth!
Forget about all that and what you said is true, you are doing the best you can with what you have to work with. Thats all that parents can do, the best that they can, and you & Hubby are doing the best parenting that i have ever seen!!!

Love to all,

Blogger Andie said...

i agree 100% with your mom. i don't floss johnny's teeth or my own & john doesn't floss either. you are a great mother!!!

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