"Mom, my tooth really hurts." I had suspicions that the tooth was beginning to bother him. I had heard him mention it a couple of times over the past couple of weeks. We had rescheduled his dentist appointment to have the last two cavities fixed when he got sick the day before his original appointment. Now, his new appointment isn't for another two weeks. Great. I have a new employee coming in for training tomorrow, and I'll be gone for another week next week. Rich operates on appointments and is booked through next week. Oh, and then there's the problem that we have such a great pediatric dentist that it's hard to get an appointment with him. Mix all of that together and you still have an 8-year-old boy with a toothache. A toothache that he's been hiding from us because he thought we would be upset. (This is where I lose it and just sob and sob.) We've never displayed frustration or anger when he's sick. Or have we? Maybe he's overheard us trying to work out who was going to stay home with him when he woke up sick or who was going to take off work to take him to the dentist or doctor. Maybe he's heard us talking about the costs. I just don't know. Wow. I never ever want him to feel like he can't tell us things. Particularly regarding his health.
He's been through a lot in his 8 short years of life. He's had injuries, illnesses, allergies, ADHD, Aspergers and severe acid reflux. We battle the last four on that list, every. single. day. And because of the last three, we also struggle with his teeth. He's had too many cavities for his age. He grinds his teeth at night, will only drink bottled water (because of the Aspergers), loves candy, eats in the middle of the night (because he's always hungry due to acid reflux) and vomits often (due to severe acid reflux). Put all of that together and you have the perfect formula for cavities.
No parent wants to hear that their kids have cavities. It's hard to not take it as a personal judgement against your parenting abilities. At least that's how I feel. I can hear the disappointment in the dentist's voice which sends me out with such guilt and shame.
Almost every day is a challenge. I absolutely hate to say it's because he has special needs. I never want that to be a crutch...it's just a reality. A reality that can often times be lonely. Not many understand. So here I sit feeling like a horrible parent. Full of guilt and shame that I can't even take care of my child's teeth. Feeling as though I'm fighting a battle all alone. Sitting in the home office, sobbing as I type this...while sounds of playing come from the living room. (Hold one moment while I blow my nose...) So...I guess that tooth doesn't hurt anymore. So maybe all of his teeth aren't going to fall out of his head after all. Maybe I should gather my composure and make a plan to call the dentist's office tomorrow. Maybe they can fit him in next week and Rich can take him. (The dark clouds are beginning to part and the damning voices are quieting down.) My sweet, wonderful friend just called me...for something completely different. Her few words were certainly encouraging.
Parenting is tough but satan is a liar. Guilt and shame do not come from the Lord. Yes, we have made mistakes as parents. Careless, stupid mistakes. I have been walking in hurt, anger, frustration, defeat, guilt and shame for several years. Some of that stems from things I should have done differently. The rest stems from things I had/have no control over. Both of our children have experienced some bad parenting. BUT, I am not the author and finisher of my children's lives. I am called to love them, guide them and care for them. I will not be perfect. Where I fail, the Lord will protect and restore. I have to believe that...otherwise, the guilt and shame rush back in and the crying starts all over again.
I must dig down deep and get rid of this guilt and shame once and for all. I have carried it long enough. It's time to lay it down at the foot of the Cross. Tomorrow is a brand new day. I have 1.5 hours of this day left with my son and hopefully a bit more time with Tori before she goes to bed. So if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go beat my boy in a game of checkers. :)
Thank you for listening...whether it was by choice or not.