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!

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