Friday, July 28, 2017

When a dentist mommy shames

A word of advice: Don't let your kids go to the dentist with a corn flake stuck between their teeth!

It happened to me this morning and guess what, I got mommy shamed. By my dentist. Who is a mother. Who has three young kids. Who also works full time. And it still happened.

For those of you who have never been mommy shamed let me tell you how it feels: frustrating, betrayed, lonely, angry. The list could go on. Bottom line: it sucks.

It all started when the dentist found a corn flake in my daughters back molar during her six-month check-up this morning. She pulled it out on the hook of her prodding tool and help it high in the air.

"Look at this, did you even brush your teeth this morning?" she asked my daughter. "Maybe you need to go to the dental hygienist to teach you how to brush your teeth."

Luckily, my daughter's teeth were otherwise perfect. I guess the corn flake threw the dentist for a loop because she never even mentioned my daughter 10cm overbite from sucking her thumb.

Then it was my son's turn in the check-up chair and guess what? She pulled out a ball of what she called plaque. "I see we have a family problem, so it's a good idea to go to the hygienist." No cavities, but you would never know by the way she reacted to the plaque.

And finally I was in the hot seat and that's when she cracked. She started stabbing my gums and scrapping my teeth until she collected another ball of plaque. "Yes, you all have to go to the hygienist and learn how to brush your teeth!" For her I think it was a personal slap in the face.

She then began lecturing me on how I need to take time to brush my kids teeth for them until they are at least 10! Ok, I know she is right, but let's get real: what parent has brushed their kid's teeth until they were 10? Twice a day.

I could feel that she was trying to make me ashamed. It wasn't really what she said, but how she said it.  It was her judgmental glare and the way she cut her eyes and held up the corn flake on her dental pitch fork.

The positive part of this experience is that I didn't feel a bit of ashamed at all and I didn't feel the need to defend myself. I was frustrated that she didn't show understanding and compassion to a full time working mother who loves her children and tries her best to take care of them. No one is the perfect parent. And then I was angry and felt betrayed. We are in the same club of parenting!

After I walked out of her office, I then felt a little sorry for her. I thought maybe she had a bad morning with her kids and felt frustrated or sad herself. Maybe she was too hard on herself and was projecting. Then I thought, you know what, that is her problem and I was not going to allow her to make it mine. I would stay kind and calm and just hope her day would go better.

And now I can laugh about it. I can laugh when I think about the golden corn flake being held high in the air and what it represented: the most beautiful imperfection of being a parent. I wouldn't change a thing!

Monday, July 10, 2017

A gift for my daughter

I could see her eyes watching me and soaking in my every move. I would watch her mimic my words, my mannerisms and even my way of thinking. She was my little shadow for so many years, silently learning how to face the world.

And I that is where I failed her. At the time, I didn't understand the importance of being her role model. Honestly, I didn't think twice about it, I actually didn't think of it at all. I just assumed that I was enough for her to learn how to thrive in the world, and I never expected for her to be my mirror.

To make a long story short, my seven year old daughter has been bullied on and off by various kids at school for the past two years. Mostly by little girls who see her kindness as a weak point and then they use it to either bully or manipulate her.

In the beginning, I was mad at the world. How could these little girls be so mean, I would ask myself over and over again. First it was a classmate, then it was someone in another class and then it was a little girl at after school...the list could go on, but I soon realized they all had one thing in common: my daughter.

Each time she would tell me what happened, I would watch her the flower that was once her self-confidence shrivel and barely cling to life. She then learned to put on a brave face when telling me, but I recognized the sadness behind the smile.  And at once I could only see a life-long struggle she had ahead of herself in desperate search for self-love and confidence.

It was up to me to break the cycle. I tried everything I could to learn how to prevent this fate. I read books on teaching girls self-confidence, I said all the right things and I even pretended I was someone else in front of her, someone she could look up to.

But it was all in vane. And it was time I gave her the only gift I could give her, a true role model. Someone she could really learn from. Someone who I wanted my daughter to be like. Someone self-confident, smart, beautiful from the inside, and most importantly kind with a twist of sass: My sister!

My sister is a 26 year old ball of sass and sweetness rolled into one. "Don't mess with the Jess". That's her motto and trust me she means business. When I think of self-confidence, I can only see my little sister. She knows who she is and she doesn't care what the world thinks, she is who she is and she is proud of it! She is who I wanna be when I grow up! And someone I want my daughter to be like when she grows up.

So this weekend, when my daughter was crying from frustration from being bullied/manipulated by a "friend", I asked her, "What do you think Aunt Jessie would say to your friend". And that's how it started.

We began to imagine Jessie speaking to the girl and I watched my daughter transform into a self -confident, witty little Jessie-twin I knew she could be. I watched her eyes sparkle as we talked about how Aunt Jessie would solve the problem.

I told her that the next time she gets in such a situation to remember: WWJD? What Would Jessie Do. We turned it into a game and spent the rest of the day repeating WWJD giving ourselves permission to be confident.

And that was my gift: my daughter now has a role model. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How babies are made

You can only imagine the shock I felt when I checked my internet history and found someone had searched for naked women. And it could only be one person: The nine year old who uses my computer to play Minecraft.

Of course, I should have enabled the safety procedures before I let him use it, but I had no idea boys were interested in women at such a young age, much less without clothes.

I have to admit, I was upset at first. I was in disbelief and not ready for this step in parenting. It
was a real eye opener for me, my entire parental guidance system immediately went into a higher gear. I wasn't dealing with tantrums and teething anymore. I was dealing with issues that would affect my kids for the rest of their lives.

My instinct was to pretend that I didn't see the search and go on like my son was still a baby. I could have done that very easily and just put on the internet safety controls.

However, the first thing I did was contact a friend of mine who raised two awesome, happy teen boys. I needed mama guidance and I knew that I could trust her advice and I was right. I wasn't going to sweep this under the carpet, I was going to face this issue, even though it was the hardest thing I had to do as a parent.

When my son and I were alone, I casually asked him what he searches for on my computer. And that sparked our discussion on the subject I most dreaded to talk about: sex.

Thanks to my friends advice, I created an atmosphere that was safe for my son to talk about things that might embarrass him. For me, it was a parental out-of-body experience. I had to detach myself emotionally and think logically how to carefully explain the delicate topic.

Here I was speaking openly, honestly about sex, ovaries, sperm and vaginas. I am not sure where I gained the strength from, but I found it, and the talk ended up being one of the most positive experiences I have had along my journey as a parent.

My son really opened up and asked questions and I was able to explain the answers in a way that he understood. I thought about myself as a nine and what I would want someone to say to me. I was able to keep the conversation in a context that his level of understanding could handle.

When he was done asking questions, he gave me a hug and said he loved me. I felt our bond was stronger and I could feel he really trusted me.

And even though we had a conversation about an adult topic, I still  had my innocent little boy in tact. He was just curious, and I reassured him that is human nature to be curious. I told him he could always come to me or his father with any question about sex.

You would think my nine year old jumped up a level of maturity today, but it wasn't him that grew. When I look at him I still see a sweet soul who needs his parents to guide him along his path.

But when I looked in the mirror today, I saw a strong, loving mother, who grew more than she ever had before. I finally felt like a legit, genuine mama of two beautiful people.

I was all grown up now. It was a right of passage I had been waiting for and it never seemed to find me. Then by chance, I found it.