I laid my head on the desk fighting back tears. In one awful day I managed to question everything about my life. Feeling like a failure of a mother, I gathered my children buckled them into the car and drove.
It all started with the realization that the boys were overdue for a dental checkup. Seeing as how Lennon is almost 3, it seemed like a good time to also introduce him to the dentist. Ideally, I would have rather him been seen before now, but given his behavior during the course of 2013 to now, it didn't seem fair to unleash that on an unsuspecting hygienist.
Upon calling our local dental clinic, the receptionist greeted me with a very chipper voice and explained that the boys would all be new patients given the length of time since their last visit.
Questioning her logic, I asked about the date of their last checkup.
I gasped audibly and said "That can't be! I'll have to call you back."
In a panic I glanced through my planner from 2013 and all of 2014 and could not find another appointment where the boys had seen the dentist. In a tailspin, I could feel the weight of depression begin to sink in. The disbelief that I had allowed almost 2 years to pass since their last checkup. Mind you, they aren't great with their oral hygiene, so the dentist is our professional attempt at stellar hygiene. In my mind, as long as they are making those checkups twice a year, we're doing our best. Aside from that and certainly despite our best efforts, Hayden is prone to cavities and they're idea of brushing is more closely aligned with sloppily moving a toothbrush around their mouth while chewing on the bristles. I know it seems like a cliche' excuse, but as the exhausted mother of three, half of the time I forget to brush my own teeth, much less remember to brush theirs. I always make commitments that I should really try to do better and stay on top of them about brushing their teeth, but something always gets in the way and I forget. Mind you, I've never been stellar about my own dental health. I would love to live in a world where flossing was my number one priority, but sadly it's not. We remind them and always tell them to brush and they do, but the smell of their breath tells us they don't do such a great job. If it's really terrible we will intervene but most of the time we're simply both too tired to get up and actually put the brush in their mouth. I know, I know. I really don't need the lecture. But nevertheless, here I find myself in my office on a Tuesday fighting off the the depths of depression about my failure as a mother because I haven't been able to find the time to actually make an appointment to take my children to the dentist.
I flashed back to a month prior at Sebastian's parent teacher conference where his teacher informed me that he was behind in reading. Flashing back to the year prior when we really would have buckled down to do more reading with him and I recall many, many nights with Lennon screaming throughout bedtime and it taking both Chad and me to simply make it through those nights without shaking him. That sounds horrible, I know. As I sat there, still baffled that so much time had passed since their last visit, and recalled all the events looking back through my calendar and just how many doctors appointments Lennon had, it occurred to me that dental checkups were the last thing on my mind. Reading to my middle son was the last thing on my mind during that time.
And it made me sad all over again.
I know I can't change the fact that an entire year was taken from us, and my goodness I do know that in the scheme of things of what parents deal with, this is so minor. But I can't help but be sad for all that was lost. The effects are far-reaching, and we are still dealing with it.
I suppose the dentist was just the straw that broke the camel's back. But nevertheless, I found myself feeling that if I did not get them a dentist appointment that day all of their teeth would fall out of their mouth and we would be left with gummy smiles and dentured children.
So I set off to call around and find another dentist. In my mind, I cannot possibly face their last dentist which we have now been absent from for almost two years. Not to mention, they can't even see them until March. But seriously, the perceived judgment is just too much. I have always prided myself on managing to keep it together for the most part. I do struggle with feeling like I'm on the cusp of always falling apart, but somehow things stay together.
At this point, I feel it appropriate to respond to the question I get most often, which is "I just don't know how you do it all Kellye?" And to that I would answer that I don't. I just barely keep it together. It's in moments like this that I realize that I'm doing a terrible job of doing even that. I can't seem to even do the most basic thing like getting my children to the dentist twice a year. These are the thoughts in my mind anyway.
As I called around, I stumbled upon a clinic very close to our house and I got excited when I spoke to them and learned we had actually seen this dentist in 2009 but had not yet been back. Racking my brain to determine why on earth we would never have gone back, I came up empty so I called hopeful that this might be a winner. As if the light had broken at dawn from a terribly sleepless night, the kind woman on the other end of the phone responded that they could see all three boys that afternoon. Desperate and again feeling as if I was fighting a deadline not to let my children's teeth fall out of their mouth, I joyfully responded that we'd take it! It was only after that I realized we needed to get the insurance straight and perhaps that might have been the reason we did not return for another checkup post 2009.
I asked the lady to please run our policy number and call me back to let me know if they were a network provider. She promised that she would, but hours went by with time quickly winding down until our appointment and still no word from her. With approximately 30 minutes to go until their appointment, I called again to check. "Oh let me try again and I'll call you right back!" And she did...to let me know that yes, in fact, they were a network provider.
With exactly 18 minutes until their appointment I rushed out of my office in a hurry, arriving at the daycare at the time of their appointment. Literally running through daycare to collect my three children.
"Let's go! Let's go! Let's go! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"
"We're only 8 minutes late" I reassured myself and fighting the damning voice in my head that is appalled at tardiness. Slamming the car in park and unlocking the doors for the big kids to unload and FANTASTIC, Lennon is one less shoe, which I dig very quickly to find under the seat. Running into the office sweating, panting, and hair a mess, I announce that the Smiths are here!
With hope and relief, I look at the Receptionist, whose face begins to contort with obvious remorse. "I'm so sorry" she started, as I fought the urge to plug my ears and ignore what was to come next.
In some crazy coincidence, another Smith family had called earlier that day. They also with 3 children and also new patients, but with another insurance carrier and an appointment directly following ours.
When I called she assumed she was speaking to that lady, the answer to her question being yes, they were certainly a network provider. For our dental insurance, they were not a network provider. Questioning what the balance would be for each of my children it was clear to me that this was not going to work out. And it was then that I laid my head on her desk and really fought off the tears.
It seems so melodramatic, I realize, but also know that I've never claimed sanity and this day was just further evidence to the internal battle I've fought since the very first day I took Hayden to daycare so I could return to work. Being a working Mom is tough. Being a Mom is tough. Period. The end.