I’ve been holding my breath for a week now. Sleep (and bliss) has been tortuous with a million “what if’s” invading the space between hitting the hay and dawn’s early light.
I have exhaled. Finally. But this moment of bliss is sure to be a fleeting….
The saga with my son continues.
So, he has not been to a dentist in more than fifteen years.
I know…right? Your head must be popping!
My head certainly did when I heard this months ago not long after he arrived on my doorstep pretty much destitute, in the middle of the night.
Since that evening, on and off, he’s been complaining about bleeding gums and swears some teeth are ready to fall out. With everything else that seems like a train wreck … now this. Of course I’ve been through the whole drill on the importance of dental hygiene. And, for the record, lest you think I’m a neglectful mother, I did this throughout his childhood, maintaining regular dental visits from his first one at the age of three until he was nineteen…not to mention braces for two years.
Since he won’t floss, I bought him a Waterpik® this past Christmas. “I know flossing can be a hassle…and yeah….you’ve got this lazy streak….so do this. It’s easy and it’s the next best thing to using dental floss. But, you must be disciplined and use it everyday.”
“Maybe,” is his reply.
ARGH! Was he dropped on his head when he was a baby and I don’t know about it?!
“You’ve got to get a job with health and dental benefits!,” I all but scream at him in complete frustration as I contemplated sprinting out of the house (still in my morning robe) in search of peace and sanity.
“I did have dental benefits at the one job, he said. “I just didn’t want to go to the dentist.”
I stop in my tracks. SAY WHAT? You mean to tell me that you had some dental coverage but didn’t take advantage of it?! Are you nuts!?
“No one likes to go to the dentist mom,” he says to me in that tone…the one that suggests I have just fallen off a turnip truck.
Weakened by weeks of head-banging frustration over my son’s
inability refusal to launch, The Purple Minion erupts once again. I’ve had far too many of these visits in these last few months.
Honestly, I cannot wrap my head around his refusal to take responsibility for himself. I had thought by his 36th year he’d have learned to manage his white-coat syndrome, to some extent at least. Dentists and doctors make him nervous. It’s understandable: I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences with less than stellar doctors. Still, I try to reason with him telling him that there are plenty of good doctors and dentists out here and that he must take responsibility for his life, starting with better lifestyle habits. But I may as well be talking to a brick wall. It’s another in a list of reasons of why–IN MY HUMBLE OPINION— he needs to agree to counseling.
“So wait, why don’t you, until all your teeth rot out; sounds like a plan to me,” I erupted in Vesuvius fashion. I’ll admit that for a nano second I thought of the silver lining in losing all his teeth; he wouldn’t be able to eat the crap food he purchases with what little pennies he has left.
“And oh, by the way,” I added as I slammed silverware into the dishwasher, “your grandmother did just that and by the time I was able to force her to get to a dentist (after some thirty years) she needed thousands of dollars in dental work. How are you going to pay for that son, WITHOUT A JOB?”
The next day however, we have a fraction of a step forward, which means that something must have reached him. Frankly, it shocks the hell out of me as other matters of critical importance (e.g. GET A JOB…GET COUNSELING) have been summarily dismissed.
“I made an appointment with a dentist mom, for a cleaning. It’s the dentist you recommended….your dentist.”
I’m sure my mouth fell to the floor in disbelief.
So, for the past week, waiting for that appointment to take place, sleep has eluded me more than usual. Images of gum disease, rotten teeth, solidified tartar, systemic bodily infection, not to mention dollar signs, have ruled the night. I’m sure he’ll have the worst news possible regarding the state of his chompers. How can he not have full-blown periodontal disease with never flossing or having routine dental visits for fifteen years?!
It’s no surprise that I was a nervous wreck for my son the day of his dental visit. To get myself out of my anxiety-filled head-space I actually made it to a yoga class at a studio some thirty minutes from home. It was my first time at this studio and my first time back on a studio mat in ages.
As I sat on the mat with eyes closed I listened to the instructor’s opening guidance for the class.
“As we begin,” she said, “set your intention for your practice this morning. Perhaps its prayer for someone who seems to have lost their way or someone in your life who needs extra loving today.”
It’s like she read my mind.
And so, I carried my son with me, in my thoughts and movements, throughout the 75-minute class. Each inhale and exhale I asked the universe to see my man-child through the day…and yes, to give him a knock upside the head to listen and act upon the loving guidance that his family is giving him in order to get his life on track.
How did it go, you ask?
Let’s just say for once, it was his lucky day. He came home with a smile on his face.
“Mom, I actually liked the dentist. He was cool. Nothing major is wrong. A ton of plaque build-up that made it longer than usual for the dental hygienist and one filling that needs to be addressed sometime soon. And of course the dentist advised that I not go another fifteen years because I wouldn’t be so lucky then.”
No shit I muttered as I exhaled in one long breath after a week of holding it in. In fact, I dissolved into a puddle of relief for my son. I gave him a big hug as I praised him profusely for taking what was obviously a very difficult step. You are extremely lucky son. Don’t blow it. Start taking care of your teeth from here on out.
Relief was just as visible on his face, although I am not sure he took my words to heart.
I killed the moment, I am sure, as I said, “Now apply similar action to other parts of your life; get a job and… schedule a counseling visit.”
“Ya well, counseling is never going to happen,” he said as he headed back down into the basement.
Told you so; the moment of adult-child-bonding bliss was fleeting.
While images of gum disease won’t keep me away tonight a hundred other things will.
Two steps forward but 1- 3/4 steps back. It’s a struggle, to be sure; still I will call it my moment of bliss for the day.