When my daughter bellyflops on the couch, sobbing because she doesn’t want to take a bath, I launch directly into my speech about the privileges of living in the First World. “We have running water and shampoo that comes to our doorstep from drugstore.com and penicillin and emery boards, so we are obligated to take care of our bodies.” Because I’m original and witty, I call it my “First World burdens and privileges” speech.
Everyone in my house loves it.
But I was only able to recite it 378 times before I started to feel uncomfortable. Hypocritical. Like a senator or a preacher.
Because even though I’ve been decent at self-care since becoming a mom, there’s a blot on my record.
Little Miss First World hasn’t seen the dentist since we had a white dude in the White House. It’s so wrong. I know. Stop looking at me like that, it’s not like you had to kiss me.
I’ve got no excuses other than terror. Specifically, the terror of (1) spending all that money on something so boring, (2) the abject pain of all that scraping, and (2) practically drowning from those little spurts of water bouncing off my teeth and into my nose. Maybe laziness was part of it too, but terror is more likely to elicit your pity rather than your disgust.
I know I probably deserve both.
So I went. And it sucked. No less than five people in the office dropped by to exclaim (and shame) “OHMYGOD, You haven’t been here in so long. Do you still have teeth, you dirty, placque-y woman? What have you been doing all these years?”
At first, I laughed, knowing I deserved a good shaming. Extra lucky for me, Jeff and I see the same dentist so I got to hear all about “how often” they see him and how “great” his
attendance is teeth are. It’s totally exhilarating to have an office full of oral hygiene freaks raving about your husband’s commitment to his choppers while gasping at you like you jumped bail after being charged with felony pedophilia.
By the time the smug ass dentist swung by to glance at my teeth (which cost a few hundys per second), and he launched into his “wooooow, been a long time– hope you were doing something fun” bit, I snapped. I ripped off the stupid yellow paper bib and spit my mouthful of blood into the sink and told him the truth.
“Yes. I’ve been wicked busy. I had two babies cut out of my abdomen– for cheaper than this visit– and then kept them alive with milk from my body, while searching for my identity in and out of my professional field. And in my spare time I wrote a book and started a blog and took my kids to the dentist and held my husband’s hand after he had oral surgery (also cheaper than this visit and accompanying inquisition) and kept up with exercise and therapy and learning to cook. I also worked on improving myself as a friend and wife and citizen. Something had to give. It was you.”
Than I lay back down and opened wide.
“Looks good. See you in six months.”
“I look forward to it,” I said, giving him my shiny new smile.