This is one of those posts that could possibly get me international attention as the worst mother in the world. I promised I would say it like it is and be truthful. This is an anonymous blog, so I should be able to lay it out there, right? The following could possibly cause my comment box to be filled with nasty, vile declarations of how wretched I am. I accept that. Here goes:
I'm crushed by Little One's appearance sans three front teeth. Darling says he can't tell a difference. A dear friend who came over yesterday said she couldn't tell. But I can. I can tell. She doesn't look the same to me. Her upper lip caves in a little, like an old man who needs to put in his dentures. I keep looking at her, trying to focus above her nose, hoping to see my little girl's face like I know her. She doesn't look the same to me. I don't think the lack of teeth makes her cute. Her face looks like I've done something wrong, like I've failed. This isn't like a broken limb or a cut that will heal in a few weeks or even a few months. This is the way it is until her permanent teeth come in several years from now.
I'm afraid that because she doesn't look the same I will treat her differently and it'll affect how she grows and what kind of woman she becomes. I'm afraid that because she isn't as impossibly cute to me without those top front teeth that I will subliminally treat her as if she's less than. And she isn't. She's still herself. She's still hysterically funny and precious. She just doesn't look the same. I'm shocked at how much her appearance bothers me. I'm shocked by my shallowness. I've always been the one who doesn't care about clothing labels or hair styles or anything much beyond basic hygiene and comportment. My reaction has stunned and shamed me. How shallow and horrible am I? How terrible am I that her appearance matters so much to me? Or am I just saying what most mothers would feel and are too ashamed to say?
I keep imagining what the women at the park will say or ask or think. It's a looped litany in my head: What a horrible mother for not paying close enough attention to her daughter that she got hurt enough that her baby teeth were so damaged three of them had to be removed. What are they - white trash who can't afford a dentist? What does she feed her that her teeth rotted out - nothing but sugar? Do they not know to brush their kids' teeth? What's the deal - three kids and by the third they don't care enough to keep close watch on them? They shut down by the third? Well, that's what happens when you have more kids than you can handle. That's why you should only have two kids - one for each hand. What trashy people. What a bad mother. And the worst: She'd be cute if only she had her front teeth.
Darling came home early last night. Yesterday afternoon was rough and my wonderful husband came home early to alleviate some of the pressure. While the kids were outside playing and out of ear shot, I fell apart in his arms and told him everything I was thinking and how horrible I feel that she doesn't look like herself and how I'm a terrible, shallow mother for being upset about her appearance and how I'm afraid it'll change our relationship. He hugged me. He held me. And then he pointed out that Big Kid has a mouthful of weird-looking teeth because his face hasn't grown enough to accommodate his permanent teeth and we don't even notice anymore. Big Kid's our son and we love him regardless and soon I'll forget how Little One has changed. She's still our baby. He reminded me that the surgeon looked at the x-rays and assured us she didn't damage her permanent teeth, as we'd been warned, and that she'll just have a toothless grin for a few years. A few years in a long life is nothing. My man is so smart. God knew what he was doing when he matched us.
So here I sit, watching her play. She ate lunch and is now drawing circles. "Circie" she says. She's happy. She's not upset at all that she doesn't have her top front teeth. It hasn't even phased her, except now she bites into food on the side of her mouth, not the front. Today she ate more comfortably than she has since the accident. I know I'm completely transferring my worries onto her. She's healthy and she's happy. And... she smells like herself again. And she feels the same in my arms. She snuggles into me the same way.
Eventually I'll forgive myself, right?
Clueless about this whole post? Go here and then here.