Be Enough Me: The Moment Before Melt Down

Every MONDAY join us. Write, post, link-up, share your story and your voice. Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission to empower, inspire, and remind women, parents and children that the time has come to celebrate ourselves! This week we were asked to post a Just.Be.Enough moment based on the beginning words: I just knew I had to

It had been eight days of interrupted sleep and whiny mornings.

Eight days of ice-packs and Anbesol.

Eight days of Motrin and Tylenol cocktails just to get her through the day.

It felt like I had a nine-month-old teething baby again, only she isn’t nine months old.

She is 9 years old.

Eight days earlier, an oral surgeon removed a baby tooth  fused to The Hare’s jaw bone. We knew for a few years that this would be the final process, and once her ex-rays finally revealed a permanent tooth waiting patiently under the gum line, it was time to take action. The fused tooth never erupted, causing the molars next to it to collapse, stunting the growth of her jaw line. In January she was fitted with braces to bring the fallen teeth upright again, making room for the surgeon to do his job. It seemed like a fairly simple process. The Hare would be put to sleep with anesthesia. The surgeon would remove her tooth from the jaw bone and we would spend a few days keeping her calm and relaxed until the stitches dissolved. I promised ice-cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Eight days later, The Hare was still crying out in pain in the middle of the night. The oral surgeon’s office decided to bring us back in a few days earlier than scheduled for her follow-up. What I thought was her permanent tooth racing to the surface turned out to be food packed tightly in the toothless space, in spite of our vigorous efforts of rinsing with warm salt water. The doctor irrigated the area as The Hare wriggled and writhed in pain, the cold blasts of water irritated her sore gums and exposed roots. He showed me what the deep cavity was supposed to look like, hollow and vast. It seems unbelievable that the permanent tooth hiding beneath will ever be able to fill this emptiness. I was also completely unprepared for how much gum would be missing. The doctor’s best guess was two more weeks until the sensitivity subsides some, and another six months before her tooth starts crowning. He sent us home with a syringe to irrigate and flush out food particles after every meal.

The next afternoon I was still fighting her to see inside her mouth.

“It’s going to hurt when you squirt water in there!” she screamed at me, refusing to open her mouth after a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

“It hurt really bad at the doctor’s office,” she started to cry.

I glanced at the clock one more time. We needed to leave in the next fifteen minutes in order to get The Tortoise to swim practice. I didn’t have time for this same  !@#$%^&*. I knew it hurt. We all knew it hurt, but there just wasn’t anything else I could do about  it. Besides, there was no way it was going to hurt as much as the doctor’s powerful waterpik. This was a small syringe, relying heavily on how hard I pushed the water through the tube.

“You don’t have a choice,” I said sharply, the timbre of my voice distorting quickly. I reached out to grab her arm as she tried to rush past me in a panic. My fingers barely grazed her sleeve. The Hare threw herself on the ground, kicking and screaming at me.

“DON”T PUT THAT IN MY MOUTH! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS AND HAS TO STOP!” I yelled back, “GET UP RIGHT THIS INSTANT.”

My cheeks burned. My eyes watered. My whole body ached from lack of sleep. As I bent down to pull her to standing, the thought of spanking her crossed my mind, spanking her hard. This was a fear-driven, and sleep-deprived, irrational temper tantrum.

I laced my fingers around her muscular arm, braced my body away from hers, and pulled abruptly. The Hare popped up in one fluid motion. She stood in front of me, tears streaming down her face. Her breath in quick gasps and hiccups.

We stood there, staring. My heart beat as fast as her breathing and I just knew I had to do something.

My fingers relaxed, releasing her arm from my grasp. I knelt on the ground so that our faces were the same height. My arms wrapped all the way around her trembling body, pulling her into me so tightly I thought she would disappear. She smelled like playground sweat and poster paints. Suddenly all of my anger melted into shame and guilt for losing my patience in the midst of her struggle.

“Mommy is so, so very sorry for yelling at you,” I whispered in her ear, “Will you please forgive me?”

The Hare’s body had been stiff, softened against mine, and dug deeper into my arms. She nodded “yes”.

“I love you with all my heart. I don’t want you to be hurting and I am just so frustrated because I don’t know how to make it better.”

The Hare pulled away from me. She wiped tears and snot on her shirt sleeve and said, “This, this  is better.”




12 thoughts on “Be Enough Me: The Moment Before Melt Down

  1. Beautiful. That sounds so painful. I remember just how much it hurt having normal braces, having my whole mouth numb and being unable to eat every time they tightened it…

  2. Wow, what a tough situation. I’m so impressed at the way you recognized what was going wrong and redirected your emotions — not an easy thing to do. (I came here from the Just Be Enough linkup.)

  3. Gosh have I been there. So frustrated. Totally at the end of your rope. Not wanting to hurt your child, but just exhausted with effort. Kids are so resilient and forgiving. And that’s such a good thing – for us parents who try so hard!

  4. I just want to reach in and hug you. There is nothing worse then not being able to take the pain away and having to do something for your child you know you have to even though it is going to be painful. Besides the fact that lack of sleep just messes with you doesn’t it. I hope that her mouth feels better soon. What a process. Hoping for a quick healing time and calmer times! Deep breaths! -Laverne visiting from Just.Be.Enough Link Up

  5. Clove oil is what I use too but instead of squirting with cold water maybe try a medicated mouthwash to keep it all clean and fresh (they’re usually marked with something scary like to help gum disease!). Oh, but the very best cure I’ve found for toothache is probably not that good for 9 year olds: ouzo! Maybe it’s better for shattered mums though! 😉

  6. Beautifully written, as usual: I could feel your frustration as well as your daughter’s fear. Your description of the pivotal moment, the moment of choosing, puts the reader there with you, teetering on the turning point of the narration. Very good writing, and powerful.

    On a non-literary note, if your daughter is still in discomfort, you might ask your doctor about clove oil. When I finally had my wisdom teeth removed (some 20 years later than most folks do) I experienced excruciating pain with one of the removal sites. My oral surgeon had sternly admonished me to call him — no matter when — if I had pain that the meds wouldn’t touch, so I did, even though it was ten o’clock on a Sunday morning. He told me to meet him at the office. He popped a clove oil-soaked bit of cotton in the hole and I felt immediate relief. I was there all of five minutes. He went back to his golf game, and I went home to bed.

    Wishing your dear child a speedy recovery! 🙂

    1. OH JEN! What great suggestions. I am going to look in to that right away. I think there is a lot to be said for non-traditional methods of healing. She is feeling much better but would probably appreciate any help she can get to ease the sore mouth.

  7. Thank you so much for linking this up. I am so glad you chose the hug, though I am sure it was so difficult IN that moment to not lose it and yell. Hearing her say you made it better must have helped a little, but I hope her poor little mouth feels better soon 😦

  8. Popped over from JBE… I feel for Hare and you in this horrid time… Ugh the thought of how hard it must be gives me shivers. But more importantly, I got shivers from how you both resolved it.

    I hope her poor little mouth gets better soon.

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