Me: “So ladies, you’re going to have to get a couple of teeth pulled, remember when the orthodontist told you that?”
Girls: “Yeah. Is it gonna hurt? Do they give us that laughy gas stuff?”
Me: “I’m not sure what they use, but when I was young, I had to get 4 TEETH PULLED at the same time! And I don’t remember a thing. It won’t be a big deal.”
Well, for the few days leading up to the extractions, the girls were nervous and asking about how much this would hurt, if they numb them, etc. etc. I was like ‘of course they do, you will be fine, this is no big deal.’
Persisters, I don’t mind telling you that yesterday were the extractions and I had one of the worst anxiety attacks of my life because of it. Who knew.
I assumed that (my dentist having been a great caregiver for our whole family over the years), this event would be no different. My kids would be comfortable, they would be nervous but okay. WRONG. This was all done with local anesthesia. So they swabbed their gums a bit with a topical numbing agent, then injected their mouths directly with Novocain (which let me tell you – with kids under the age of 10…is scary). I started to freak out a little. My kids started freaking out a lot. The girls started whimpering. Then all out crying. When the pliers came out and started wigging the tooth loose, there was all out SCREAMING. I told the dentist to give my daughter more Novocain, like as much as possible, because this wasn’t a joke, they really were hurting (we moms can tell, can’t we!) I asked why they didn’t do any laughing gas or anything to make them more comfortable (the answer was that this dentist just does not do this). OMG full on panic attack for me at this point. GUILT. HORRIBLE HELPLESSNESS. The girls’ teeth were already wiggled loose by the pliers, already numb, and stopping at that point would have been a worse recovery to then go and find a new dentist with a very sore mouth. I held my kids hands and told them how proud I was of them. Through the crying and screaming, I saw the teeth come out. It was not a site a parent wants to see with the audio effect of your daughters screaming in pain. On the car ride home, all I could do was cry and hold them. Yup, I sure did. Mind you, at that point they were ok, and I was the blubbering idiot. I don’t recommend losing your shit in front of the kids, but sometimes and on rare occasions, it just plain happens. I told them that I was OK, but it really hurt me to see them in pain and so scared. That I didn’t realize it would be that painful, and how sorry I was that they had to go through it. I said that many times over the course of the evening. You know what’s interesting? They patted me on the back and told me they were OK. That it didn’t hurt anymore. Of course that broke my heart more, what troopers they were, and now they were comforting me.
After they went to bed, I sobbed into the leftover soup that I had made them for dinner, and sobbed more into a full wine glass that I did not nurse this time.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It wracked me with intense guilt, and I was unable to get a grip and calm down. I thought to myself, this has truly traumatized them from going to the dentist now. That they won’t ever trust me again – I told them it would be no big deal, right? IT WAS A BIG DEAL.
I crept into bed with my 9 year old (who had more of an ordeal than my younger one) when she was already asleep that night and tried to calm my mind. I started thinking about what I had learned. Hindsight sucks, doesn’t it?
Here are some things I pulled out of that hat. I think I learned the true resiliency of my kids. I learned that I need to do more research about anything that I don’t know everything about. That if I continue to make a big deal out of this, it would indeed put my kids into a victim mentality…and I don’t want that. I was honest with my girls…mom lost it a little, but that I’m human – that I care so deeply about them that what hurts them, hurts me. I had beat myself up a bit about getting emotional in front of them, but I learned it’s ok.
If you’re a mom – I’ll bet you a story or two where your heart strings were cut from guilt and helplessness over a situation. Be kind to yourself. What did you learn? For me, I got a solid reminder of the intense love and gratitude I have for these girls that I have the privilege to raise. I also know that my girls are extremely resilient and that they will go through good and bad times in their own lives…and that how I respond to challenges is going to be the greatest lesson to my children.