Take Care of You

My random thoughts of the other day made me realize there was a whole category of things I like but miss terribly. And I don’t just mean going to a concert whenever I want, or all-day viewing sessions of NCIS.

Because of the utter lack of work/life balance (it’s myth, people), I struggle first and foremost with the ability to take care of myself.

As I mentioned, I don’t get exercise anymore — make no mistakes, my life at home could hardly be called sedentary, but I’m not doing the type of workouts that lead to abs of steel, either. And I talked about finally getting contact lenses. Do you know how long it took me to actually schedule that appointment for myself? I was too worried about¬† missing (more) work, and not for a sick kid, but for ME. For something for my own health and well-being.

As it was, I didn’t have to miss work; the eye place I chose has evening hours. I just had do the logistical heavy lifting of getting my kids looked after. (Thank goodness my ILs are back from Florida.)

The list of health care appointments for myself that I need to schedule include, at this time, the dentist, a routine physical exam (although I do not miss my annual girlie appointments; I am faithful about those), and the chiropractor. Oh, how I miss the chiro. I need to see one. I have two, one near my office and one near my home. I haven’t seen the former because I don’t have time to take for lunch anymore — I would have to burn a personal hour just to see her, and I am damn close to doing it, too — and I haven’t seen the latter because I don’t want to bring my children with me, and I don’t want to overload my ILs, AND I don’t want to pay a babysitter (as well as a co-pay).

If — when, I should say — my children need to see the doctor or the dentist, I take the time, I burn the personal or vacation hour(s). I don’t even hesitate. I agonize a little, I will admit that. I was close to taking a personal hour next week to see my chiro, but then yesterday, I had to get Michael to the doctor. He’s got another ear infection — that’s three in five months, people. I’ll have to take more time for his ear recheck/six month appointment/vaccinations. Kate goes back to the dentist in a couple of weeks, too, to follow up on her chipped tooth.

Two things I want to make clear here:

One: While my husband can and sometimes does help out with these things, it’s tricky. He doesn’t have vacation time or sick hours; as a psychologist who runs his own office, he only gets paid for the hours he works. Plus, sometimes, he just doesn’t know the answers to the questions they ask at the doctor or dentist. He doesn’t know how long Michael has been pulling at his ear; he doesn’t know how high his temperature got at daycare. He doesn’t know if Michael cleared his last ear infection, or what medications he has been on. He would have to call me anyway, so even if I were at my desk, I’d be otherwise occupied.

Two: I am not complaining. I know it *sounds* like I’m complaining, but I signed up for this gig, and I wouldn’t trade it in. I wish that I had another option — unpaid time, for example, or part-time work. It would make it easier to do what I need to do — for myself — if I didn’t have to worry about needing paid time later (for my kids or, as it so happens this year, to travel to North Carolina for my sister’s wedding). This “paid time” thing hangs over my head. Because what happens when it runs out, and I still have to go to the doctor for one of my kids?

#screwed

Random Thoughts: Things I Like

I like sleeping on clean sheets. It just makes me happy.

I like chocolate. I missed it a lot over Lent. I missed it so much that I didn’t go the entire 40 days without it. Chocolate is my anti-depressant of choice.

I like my morning coffee.

I like the colors of plants and trees this time of year. The green of new buds and the hues of blossoming trees make me happy. Although I enjoy them most when it’s sunny (*ahem*, Mother Nature), they really pop against a gray sky, I will admit.

I like my children’s artwork. I still have many of Flora’s pictures of her little brother. Kate, especially, likes to get jiggy with some crayons. Sometimes, she doesn’t even draw anything (unlike her sister, who almost always draws a baby, or a dog, or some kind of animal). Sometimes Kate just colors madly.

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Subset: Things I Like and Miss Terribly

The library — we haven’t been in months, and we won’t be going for awhile yet. Flora (finally, God willing and the creek don’t rise) will be having soccer games most Saturdays for two months, and if it’s nice after that, we’ll be outside Saturday mornings.

Wearing sunglasses — I haven’t been able to wear my contact lenses since I was 36 weeks pregnant. At a recent eye exam, the doctor diagnosed allergies (which, duh), and gave me some drops. I have to use them for a week, and he gave me new, soft contact lenses to wear. (Up until now, I have only worn gas permeable rigid lenses.) I’m excited to try them after I’ve been using the drops for a week. Because it *will* be sunny again, and I hate squinting.

Exercise — real, formal, organized exercise. A run and then weights; a 30-minute DVD workout. Something. Anything. My little walks aren’t cutting it. The fact that I am on my feet nearly all evening isn’t really toning muscle (it’s just making my feet hurt).

Sleep — real, uninterrupted-for-hours sleep. (This probably directly impacts the above point.) It’s in terribly short supply, and the worst part it that it’s not my baby who is (always) keeping me up. Those other two are just as guilty for how badly I am sleeping lately.

Smoking cigarettes — It has been more than a year — nearly 400 days, actually — since my last smoke. And I’ll be honest, I miss it a lot, some days more than others. But this is one thing I would like to keep missing.

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It’s the little things, people.

What do you like? What do you like and miss terribly?

More things in heaven and earth…

While we were eating Easter dinner, Flora came into the dining room.

“Is heaven in the galaxy?” she asked.

After some consultation among the adults, we decided that Heaven was not in the galaxy, but it is in the universe.

Flora went back to the kids’ table in the kitchen, announcing, “Guys, guys, heaven isn’t in the galaxy. It’s in the universe!”

Thirty seconds later, Kate came into the dining room.

“Do you know what crap means?”

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And that pretty much sums up the differences between my two girls. One has her eyes on the heavens, and the other is a little more prosaic. I half expect Michael to query someday whether there is crap in heaven.

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…Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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Also: THIS. Tina Fey’s A Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter

The Never Ending Story

I have come across a couple of reflections on grief on the Interwebs in the past week.

Her Bad Mother, Catherine Connors, talks about what is beautiful about grief and heartbreak. Catherine’s father died unexpectedly last year, and her writing about the experience and its aftermath is powerful and gorgeous. (You should go watch this video, too, for its graceful beauty.)

A writer from a site I frequent, Slate.com, Meghan O’Rourke, has a book out called The Long Goodbye. It was written in the aftermath of her mother’s death on Christmas Day of 2008. She reflects not only on her own experience, but on the larger context of grief in society. I haven’t read the book yet, but her articles¬† have been fascinating.

Both of these women have gotten me thinking about my own experience of grief as it pertains to Gabriel. Especially where they touch on the trouble of grieving in our culture. There seems to be a common misperception that the death of someone you love is something to be gotten over, that eventually, a parent’s death, a child’s death, a spouse’s death, is something we move beyond — or it should be.

And, according to our culture (that is, a Western culture) the sooner the better.

In part, I think we can blame the Kubler-Ross model for this idea of “getting over”. I think people mistake the idea of acceptance in grief as “the end” of grief. As someone who has grieved — who still grieves — acceptance means moving forward and through; it means incorporating the grief into your life. We’ve got this tidy little model to look at, and we often overlook the fact that these stages aren’t hard and fast rules. Even Dr. Kubler-Ross noted the stages aren’t meant to be complete or chronological. It was just a way to recognize grief, not a blueprint for how to experience it.

I think we people who experience deep grief need to fight against this idea as grief as something that is supposed to end. Actively. For our own sakes and sanity, as well as those who come after us. Maybe we need to change the culture of grief from the inside.

While I cannot speak to the death of a parent (knock on wood) at this point, I have talked about this in relationship to the death of my first son at Glow in the Woods. In short, you never get over it. And that’s okay.

Mike Spohr of the Spohrs are Multiplying lost his daughter Madeline, and he writes about being defined by that loss. And that it’s okay. Our losses — like so many other things in our lives — define us. Not in a limiting way (unless we let them), but in an expanding way.

I also share in the spirit of Catherine’s comment to the effect that we should — instead of pushing grief or heartbreak away — step back and *feel* it. As she says, “…Try to take the time to go, ‘ow’ and really think about that ‘ow’.”

After all, I was thinking, what is wrong with being sad about losing someone? What is bad about wailing and crying, about the rituals of grief? Someone DIED. Maybe there is something unseemly about a grieving mother or a grieving adult child — the tears, the snotty noses. But I think that’s society’s issue, not the grieving person’s.

Also, what does pushing grief away do to our relationship with the person who died? Encouraging me to “get over” the death of my son sounds to me, “Just forget about him.” That seems so callous! The impatience our society brings to the experience of grieving is damaging — doubly damaging — to the people who have lost. In my opinion.

I also want to say here: I have been incredibly supported in my grief, from the time that I had to make the hardest phone calls I ever made in my life right up to every anniversary of Gabriel’s death. Early June brings emails and cards and phone calls — not the flood that happened when Gabriel died, of course — but one or two (or 10) from people who just say, “I’m thinking of you.” My mother, for one, acknowledges Gabriel regularly. I don’t know that it is easy for her to do it, but I also don’t feel as if she’s forcing anything. Sometimes at a holiday gathering, often on Mother’s Day, she’ll make a passing reference to our loss. And it helps keep me sane. It anchors my son in the world.

I think talking about my grandmother might do the same for my mom. I hope so anyway.

These people who died lived first.

Have you ever grieved? Do you still? How do you do it? And do you think society should be more accepting of grief and grieving than it is?

Tooth to Power

I know that reading about other people’s kids isn’t all that scintillating. Unless you get a good story about a kid running amok, maybe, into another person’s shopping cart. That at least gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you either are or will be a better parent than that poor sucker. Ahem.

But I am going to go ahead and post probably the most boring bit of news about a kid that you are going to read today (unless of course you’re already gone).

I’m doing it because this here blog-type thing is also my baby book. For Flora I had a journal, and actual baby books; but this is what I got for Kate and Michael.

Sorry.

Michael cut his first tooth last night, at 19 weeks and 6 days.

I have to go and check Flora’s baby book, but I’m pretty sure she got her teeth early, too; by 8 months, she had a bunch of them in front. Kate, on the other hand, took longer. I don’t think she popped her first one until 6 months — she was a drool monster from 4 months through 2 years, though.

I don’t know that Michael’s tooth is going to make any difference in my poor sleep. Kate was crawling into bed with me last night at 12:30 for some reason, and then snored the night away (I seriously have to get her adenoids and/or tonsils checked out), and then Michael needed BRT (binky replacement therapy) three times at 4:30 a.m.

I guess it does get us *this much closer* to solid foods though. I told him once he was sitting up unsupported, I would get him that rice cereal he’s been begging for.

Yummy.

Do I need to wait that long? I forget. His head control is awesome, but he can’t sit up at all. Back to the baby books!

Random Thoughts: Moving Right Along Edition

My ILs spent Sunday cleaning out Nanny’s room. That was a tough day. A few of us picked some things that we wanted to keep as mementoes. Dan and I choose some jewelry pieces that we could pass down to the girls. It was emotional.

My SIL and I also picked a couple of items of clothing — a comfy flannel shirt, for example, a sweater. Is it weird or morbid to wear things that once belonged to a now deceased person? Nonetheless, Nanny had some pretty clothes, most of which are going to be donated in any case.

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Michael is teething, which has been hell on my sleep lately. He’s been waking up so often at night, and sometimes binky replacement therapy hasn’t worked. Maybe he’s going through a growth spurt, too, because he often wants a bottle at 3:30 a.m. I’m feeling a little rough around the edges.

Michael is also turning over consistently, back to front; reaching for things — and immediately putting them in his mouth. Exhibit A:

His ringworm is not improving at all — in fact, Dr. Bro doesn’t think it is ringworm. He wants me to bring Michael to the office to do a scraping and test it. Which sounds just lovely. My DCL is freaking out about it, too. Honestly, if I thought I could get FMLA time for it, I’d just stay home with him until it cleared up. (HA! Like that’s going to happen.)

Because he is teething, I finally handed over the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Sophie. And now Michael spends much of this time like this:

And trying to figure out where that squeaking is coming from.

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Dan and I made a major push on our front room this weekend. It started when someone gave Dan a high-definition television two weeks ago. It’s a 40-inch behemoth of a TV, but it does have a pretty picture. So we retired our little (32-inch) TV and its stand, appropriated a stand from Dan’s cousin R, tossed a section of our sectional couch, and bought a DVD shelf (finally!). I would not be embarrassed to have someone visit us now. As long as the front room is the only thing they saw. (The kitchen is clean — including the kitchen table — but the floor needs to be mopped, and, really, our kitchen is embarrassingly outdated. We desperately need new appliances.)

We also did a ton of laundry this weekend. We still have, like, half a ton left.

Next up house-wise? It’s a toss up between yardwork (horrors) or the upstairs, especially our bedroom. Guess we’ll see what the weather decides to do. But given how hard Dan worked, and how nice the front room looks, I know change is possible!

Now I just have to train everyone to consistently put dirty clothes in hampers, and dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Wish me luck!

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Also, lest we forget, my other kids are cuties, too:

That’s at a Build-a-Bear birthday party, where both girls picked the same bear — and Kate named hers the same thing as Flora. I call them Coconut and Coconuttier (the bears, not the girls). This displeases Kate, but not enough for her to change the bear’s name. So be it!

Faith-Based, Part 2

I’ve alluded, in past blog posts that dealt with religion, to the fact that my faith saved my life. Maybe that sounds like an exaggeration, maybe it *is* an exaggeration. But I would not be *here*, where I am, without the power of prayer in my life. And I can’t ever forget that.

My faith has never been perfect, and in my 20s I was a seriously lapsed Catholic. (I started making noise about going to church in my teens — I didn’t want to, I “didn’t get anything out of it”. But going to church wasn’t up for debate. I lived with my parents; I played by their rules. Simple as that.) I stopped going to church, I didn’t follow the commandments; my life was not God-centered. It was me-centered. (Ironically, I attended a Catholic university, from which I graduated when I was 22.)

(Look, I’m not preaching that you have to be religious to be a good, ethical person. I’m just talking about my own experience here.)

I look back on that time feeling extremely grateful that I emerged relatively unscathed. I didn’t become a homeless drug addict; I didn’t end up in prison. I didn’t get in physically abusive relationships — although the relationships I was in were hardly fantastical.

And it was one of these less-than-ideal relationships that finally lead me back to the church for good.

I had made a couple of stabs at returning before my final straw, so to speak. One time, after being away a good two years, I attended church and the gospel story was that of The Prodigal Son. And I still strayed, again, for an even longer time.

It’s safe to say I was being willfully obtuse.

In 1998, I found myself in a dead-end relationship. I was struggling on several fronts, but my own biggest obstacle was *me*. I wasn’t happy; I wasn’t fulfilled; I didn’t feel loved or valued. I didn’t know where to turn.

So I walked into a church.

I don’t even remember if there was a Mass going on at the time or not. I just know that I knelt down and bowed my head.

“Hi, God,” I remember thinking. “I’m sure you know me. I need your help.”

I prayed for two things that day: courage and patience. I needed the strength and the courage to face the man I had been with for four years and say goodbye. Say, “Look, this isn’t working for me, and I have to go.”

I will reiterate here that The Guy was a perfectly nice person. He didn’t abuse me in any way; he wasn’t a freeloader, he didn’t cheat on me. But we were painfully unhappy, and we didn’t share values or plans for a future together. I thought that we would get there, but, after four years (with “a break” in the middle), we weren’t moving forward at all. I had to go, and I knew it, but I was afraid. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful, and it’s scary to be alone.

I also prayed for patience. The patience to listen. The patience to be open to the next thing. The patience to hear the “small, still voice”. I was directionless in my life, and I needed to be awake and aware to find my path.

Here I am, 13 years later, on the path that God put before me, the one that I found after those few moments of prayer. I became a regular church-goer again, a daily pray-er, a woman open to where God was going to send me. I was willing, I AM willing, to do His will, not to impose my own desires, my own childish wants.

My life is not perfect. I am human and I struggle, at times mightily, to continue to do God’s will.

God gave me the patience to wait until Dan came into my life.
He (or She if you prefer; God is Spirit, and gender-neutral) gave me the courage to be loved the way I deserved to be loved.
He gave me the strength to survive the death of my first son, and the courage to have other babies.
And when I wanted to “try one more time”, I prayed for another son, one to raise, and God said Yes.

Very often, my prayers are for much the same things: courage and patience. I also find great joy and deep peace in my faith. I know that my life is so much better with God at the center of it. My faith sustains me, and I hope that I can be an example to my children — an example to anyone, really — of what faith can do, what it can be.

This, too, is part of why I want my children to continue to receive a Catholic education. So that they have a foundation of stone, not sand. So that even if, like me, they stray and struggle, they will know deep in their hearts, as I always knew deep in mine, that God would always be there.

I know some day, it is possible one of my children will say, “I don’t believe in God.” And I know I will say, “Well, God believes in you.” Not to be flippant, but because I know it’s true, because it is God’s belief in me that has put me here. And I’m good with that, and I… I just wanted to tell you.

I don’t know how to invite you to comment on this one. I think we all have our reasons for being faithful or for struggling. All I ask is that you be respectful if you want to comment, and treat others with respect. Our journeys are all different. God be with you — even if you don’t believe in her, she believes in you.

The Creeping Crud

It started out as a little red patch on Michael’s scalp. I was worried something had bit him.

I had my brother take a look at it at my nephews’ birthday party. He shrugged. It just looked like irritation. He said maybe cradle cap — his kids had never had it, and since he’s not a pediatric dermatologist, he wasn’t familiar with it. I resolved to look up the treatment for cradle cap on the Internet when I got a chance.

The patch became more ring-shaped. And another one appeared on his scalp.

Dan looked them over. “That’s where his horns are coming in,” he said.

Har, har.

The pediatrician looked at it. “Probably cradle cap,” he said. “Use a dandruff shampoo. If it doesn’t go away, we’ll take another look.”

He got it on his bum. So I brought him back to the pediatrician.

“Oh, yeah. That’s ringworm,” the pediatrician said, looking at his bum.

He was more concerned about the breakouts on his scalp. When it gets into the hair follicles, it usually takes an oral medicine to eradicate ringworm — a fungus, not an actual worm — and he had no idea what the dosage would be for a baby.

He called the pediatric dermatologist. “Is he black?” the derm asked. Apparently, it’s much more common in black children. Uh, no. “Does he live on a farm?” No again. “Hm. That’s weird. Have her use clortrimazole on it.” What about on his head? “Well, if it doesn’t go away with topical treatment, I’ll have to see him. He’s so little, I have no idea what the dosage would be.”

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Back in December, my brother was looking at Kate’s face.

“What’s that rash around her nose?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Chapped skin,” I said. He’s the dermatologist.

“I don’t think that’s chapped skin. I think that’s ringworm.”

“Ew.”

“Yeah.”

“Well what do I do about it?”

“Use an anti-fungal cream for a couple of weeks. Like something you would use for athlete’s foot.”

I did. It cleared up. Of course, in the meantime, when she deigned to pay attention to M at all, she was kissing his head.

It is really, really hard not to kiss a baby’s head.

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I mentioned this conversation to the pediatricians (my doctor had brought in another doctor for a second opinion. She agreed that is was ringworm).

“So that’s probably how he got it,” she said.

“Sure,” I agreed. “But where did Kate get it? She’s white too.”

I, clearly, am an idiot.

The peds just smiled. “Well,” said the woman pediatrician, “he’s just special I guess.”

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Along with ear infections, skin problems seem to be rampant with my kids. The girls both had molluscum contagiosum, which is a really common virus in kids — but Flora had it on her face, which is highly unusual. I guess we’re just fated to be an unusual family when it comes to skin ailments. Oh well.

Faith-Based, Part 1

We got the official word last week that the Catholic grade school where we send Flora and Kate is closing this spring.

It’s heartbreaking, especially to my husband, who is an alumnus of the school. The girls love their teachers and classmates, and I’m sure it’s going to be difficult for them in the short run.

That being said, Catholic schools all over Pittsburgh — all over the United States, I suppose — have been struggling. St. J has been on the block for three years now, and with the inability to bring enrollment up past 90 students, the diocese and the church decided to close the school.

When Dan told me, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Or, rather, I wasn’t sure what other Catholic school we were going to send our children too. I don’t know anything about the other schools, and I am going to have to do some serious homework, with Dan, to see the best fit for us. And right quick, too.

When asked about switching the girls to a public school, I thought to myself, “Oh, I don’t think so.”

It’s hard to put into words why I think it’s important that my children get a Catholic education.

But, being a writer and all, I’m sure going to try.

1. I will admit, some of why I want my kids to go to Catholic schools is as elementary as the fact that *I* went to Catholic schools. It’s what I know; it’s what I am comfortable with. I had a Catholic education from pre-k through college graduation. And I benefitted from it, academically as well as spiritually.

2. While it’s important that I participate with my children in their education, it’s also important that they get the most in-depth education they can get. I could no more teach higher level mathematics than I could guide my children in an informative Bible study. While I might know more about my Catholic faith than the average Joe, I think my kids would do better to get formally educated in it.

3. This is probably an arguable point: The quality of a Catholic education is often superior to a public education. This is kind of inevitable, and I don’t think public education should be written off. However, from my POV, Catholic (and private schools, in general) attract very dedicated teachers. In my experience, teaching wasn’t just a job for the men and women (some of them nuns) from whom I learned; it was a vocation, a calling. Lord knows (pun intended) they don’t get paid a lot of money — this probably varies from school to school, and some hoity toity private schools can probably attract the talent with a high paycheck. (Which isn’t to write off hoity toity schools, either. Each system has its place.)

4. School uniforms. You have no idea how simplifying having school uniforms is. It really levels the playing field in some respects, socially. And I expect it to make my life as a mom much easier during the week. Once they start wearing uniforms (Flora, still in kindergarten, isn’t subject to the uniform rule yet), my mornings will be that much easier.

5. Finally, and this is where I get religion-y on you: I believe our lives should be God-centered. What we do and the way we do it should give glory to our creator. This is at the very heart of Catholic education. No, that doesn’t mean talking about God in every class. But that means that learning about one’s faith is as vital as learning math, English, science, computer, etc.

What are your thoughts about education? Public, private, Christian-based? Why?

Memory Lane: My Front Tooth

In the melee the other day, Kate chipped a tooth. I didn’t notice it until bedtime, probably because of all the blood at the time of the accident, and the tooth wasn’t radically displaced. She complained of a little bit of pain after she brushed her teeth, which is probably why I was looking at her mouth in the first place.

When I noticed, when I was tucking her into bed (well, into Flora’s bed), I said, “Oh! You chipped your tooth.” It is the eyetooth, on the left.

She got very worried. “Is it all yellow like yours?” she asked, clearly concerned.

“No,” I said wryly. “But you have to go to the dentist anyway.”

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When I was 9 years old, I fell down the stairs.

I didn’t really fall so much as fly down the stairs, actually. I remember running. I was definitely running. Whether I was running because I was late, or my mother was calling me, or I was simply taking joy in speed and my 9-year-old body — I was a long-legged lightweight at 9, and over short distances, I could go very fast — I don’t know.

In any case, I went running down the stairs, flying down the stairs, and in my ineffable graceless ways, I skipped probably the last three stairs, went soaring through the air, and landed on my face.

I blacked out, although I definitely remember screaming. Maybe I blacked out when my mother, in an attempt to save my front tooth, tried to gently point it the right way down in my gum.

It was a lost cause.

Whether or not I actually fractured my nose is up for debate. I used to claim that of course I did, because, hello, look at my nose. But now that I’m older, I have to admit: I just have my dad’s nose. My mother doesn’t remember a bloody nose; she just remembers the tooth.

When I fell, or to be more precise, when I landed, I landed on the faux stone foyer by our front door. I chipped the right front tooth cleanly in half — on the diagonal.

My mother says I was face down and screaming when she got to me, and when she turned me over, she noticed the tooth — what was left of my tooth — sticking straight out — straight forward out — of my gum. She tried to, as I said, push it down. Then she called the dentist. Who wouldn’t see me because it was a Saturday.

We changed dentists.

Anyhoo, I went to school on Monday, knowing I had a dentist appointment later. I do not remember eating the rest of the weekend, although I must have. Maybe I just drank my meals for a couple of days. (Milkshakes!)

I do remember, very clearly and painfully, deciding to get a drink of water from the fountain at school at one point. I don’t recall if anyone told me beforehand about exposed nerves, but I learned about them damn fast in that hallway. I never realized how much cold water could hurt.

The dentist did his best to repair what was left. I have blocked out that process; I’m sure some kind of novacaine was involved, because I emerged with a new, whole front tooth.

For some reason, this same dentist decided not to do a root canal at the time. He thought that maybe the nerves hadn’t really been damaged, and maybe I wouldn’t need a root canal. Or at least he hoped.

He was wrong. When I was 12, my front tooth started to hurt. At first, it was just a little tender. But the pain built, and started to radiate up into the gum, and by the time I finally saw the dentist again, the whole front of my face from that tooth up to about my sinus cavities was a giant, roaring hurt.

It you have ever had an abcessed tooth, you know what I’m talking about. If not, there probably are comparable pains. Like, if you hit your thumb with a hammer. Only imagine you hit your thumb with a hammer, and then instead of stopping and getting some ice, you hit it a couple more times. Until maybe you broke your thumb and it swelled up and you could feel the pain in your elbow. That’s what an abcessed tooth feels like. Kind of.

I had a root canal. The details are hazy. At some point, my front tooth was shaved down to a peg and then they bonded something on there that loosely resembles a tooth. If you’ve ever met me, I’m sure you’ve noticed that my front tooth is discolored. It’s been this way since I was a teen.

I keep meaning to do something about it. I’m quite self conscious about it in pictures, and I always keep my lips over my teeth when smiling for them. I don’t know what would be done about it — dentists always seem to focus on the fact that I still have my wisdom teeth, and most of them don’t discuss my front tooth in any depth. I don’t know what doing something would cost, although for some reason the amount $1500 sticks in my head.

That’s a lot of diapers.

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The dentist says Kate’s mouth is fine. He took an x-ray, then smoothed out the tooth. He says there doesn’t appear to be any further trauma to the mouth, but she has to eat soft foods for a time, or foods that are cut up small. We go back in six weeks. Thank goodness it’s just a baby tooth, and her gums and permanent teeth all appear to be unaffected. *knock wood*

What’s the most traumatic injury you got as a kid? How much would you pay to erase the scars, if any?