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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Stellar Day

Today I went to the dentist and had gum surgery.

I hate going to the dentist. I have given birth to seven children, three of them with no drugs at all. The other four I had a huge ole needle shoved into my spine, and yet the prospect of getting dental work and having a novacaine shot makes me woozy. I hate the sound and feeling of the needle going into my gums and cheek. It always feels like it is going to come right through the outside of my face.

And even though it usually doesn't hurt, there is always the uneasy fear and apprehension that there will be pain.

I hate the sound of the drill vibrating in my head. I hate that burning smell of teeth being grinded away. I hate the water shooting into my mouth that never fails to gag me. I hate that little suction tube. And I hate how my tongue can't behave and instead darts all over my mouth.

After the birth of my first child I had to be sewn back up like a Thanksgiving turkey, yet I don't think I complained near as much as I am about a couple of stitches in my mouth.

I also went to visit my mother, ending the seven year estrangement and showing my masochistic tendencies by enduring both these things in one afternoon.

She was released from the psych hospital last week. She was diagnosed as bipolar and put on some appropriate medications.

It was a strange, almost like talking to a completely different person. At first I didn't recognize this happy, laughing person as my mother.

Even more so she apologized. Not just for the other night when she said I was dead to her and disinherited, but for everything. For a life time of treating me horribly. She said that over the past week coming to the realization that she was such an awful and mean mother was almost too much for her to bear.

Hearing her feel that way was almost too much for me to bear. As much as I have told myself that I have steeled myself against anymore heartache, there it was as raw as could be. Never in my life, not once, has she apologized for anything. And as much as I hate to say it, forgiveness is not one of my strong points.

As she gave me a tour of her house, one that I have never been to, I saw evidence of her last downward spiral and noticed things that have always been, but never struck me as all that odd. Like the fact that she literally has about 100 bath towels. All white. All folded the exact same way. All stacked neatly in her linen closet.

The sheets for beds that are still wrapped in their plastic packages. So many that she could never use them all during the rest of her lifetime. And it's the same with bottles of perfume, car wax, shampoo, aspirin, etc. If the bird flu ever comes here me and all my kids could go live with them in their tiny condo and live off of their supplies for the rest of our natural lives. And it is all so anally organized.

Then there were the notes she wrote to herself and left all over the house. Notes saying that she was going to die soon and to whom the item should go. My step sister's son was going to get an unfinished floral painting that she wrote 'I love you, I am dead' all over. Now that's a family keepsake if ever there were one.

There wasn't anything with my name on it, perhaps I am getting 50 bottles of Jean Nate body spray and a gross of Alpha Keri hand lotion that were in the back of the linen closet.

Overall, the visit was pleasant. I practiced biting my tongue. And it was a good thing that it was still numb when the topics of homeschooling, breastfeeding, politics, and novels written by Danielle Steele came up.

As I sat at her kitchen table, the same one I sat at years ago, I realized that relationships are a two way street. I am responsible for my side of the relationship and I need to just let go of the past. Let go of my anger. Let go of my pain. Let go of any expectations. Let go and just be.

And realize that even though it doesn't hurt right now, there will always be the uneasy fear and apprehension of pain.


Blogger J said...

Now, how did you do that? First I was laughing, then I got all teared up, then I laughed some more (and felt sort of ashamed of myself for laughing!), then I cried for real. That's talent, right there. Your mother has a talented daughter.

11:32 PM  
Blogger owlhaven said...

Though I know it was long coming, I'm glad she apologized... strained relationships are so tough....
Mary, mom to many

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Chickadee said...

Wow, what an unexpected turn of events in regards to your mom. Be patient with yourself in this process in the turn of takes a lot of time to heal from years of emotional damage.

I HATE going to the dentist too. I'm not the greatest on going to the dentist on a regular basis for the very reasons you have stated. One of my recent visits, I almost threw up on the dental hygienist. She was just hitting my mouth the wrong way and it triggered my gag reflex, and already having an anxious stomach did not help matters.

12:10 AM  
Blogger CaliforniaGrammy said...

I'm so glad that you were able to bring yourself to go see your mom. I find it ironically funny that you chose to do it the same day as your dreaded dental appointment.

Hopefully this visit to Mom is a step in a lifetime of forgiveness. Bless you Chris and just keep on being a blessing to your children. You are an awesome Mom!

3:26 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

whoa, i was not expecting that. i am so happy for you. i hope it sticks.

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

Fear of pain and real pain sometimes don't turn out to be the same. You are brave to go to the dentist, I too hate all that you listed, even braver to face the demons of the past.

7:08 AM  
Blogger moe said...

I cringed just reading the description of the dreaded dentist visit. In fact I had to skip a few sentences about the drilling.

I used to feel the same way about visits with my mom but, those days are over now. I just accept her for who she is now. I also think how much stronger I am because of what I overcame. No thanks to her, that's all me. All you too.

But, the Jean Nate soap! Boy that brings back memories. Do they still sell that?

7:22 AM  
Blogger aka_Meritt said...

I'm thinking the medication from surgery muddled your brain, thereby confusing you and leading you to visit your mother.

But... in the end I guess it's a good thing. Headway was made. ;)

LOVE LOVE LOVE the family photo.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Onetallmomma said...

My dentist knows that I would rather push an 8 lb baby out of my vagina rather then have my teeth cleaned! I also regulary tell him that I bite and yet he lets me come back...

Letting our Moms live and forgiving them for messing us up means that we have finally become adults ourselves. Good for you!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

Hugs to you.

I admire you for going over there. I am so thankful that she apologized. Healing has begun for you.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

I met my father when I was 31 and our relationship has been a whole lot of give and take. We are totally opposite people but I will say that we do try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I get tired of listening to his prison stories and he probably gets tired of listening to my boring housewifely life. But it's worth it to me to know that I did all I could and now I'm just riding the tide.

I hate that burning tooth smell too. I've got to go get crowns put on and I dread it for that reason.

Hang in there.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Relationships with our parents really do affect us for our entire lives--good or bad. It makes me cringe when I think of the responsibility to my kids, trying to parent them the best I can and hope that when they are grown they know I loved them. Because of your experiences with your mother, you are a better parent. Unfortunately, you have had to deal with all that pain. All of us have bad experiences in life, but doing your best and moving on means that you are winning at life. Sorry for the long comment. Blessings to you and your family. Nancy

11:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

First, I swear you are me with the part about the dentist. I even said, while getting my eyebrows done by my hairdresser for the first time last year, that could give birth 6 times but I was sweaty and nervous about a strip of wax quickly ripping hair out. I need to go sooo badly to the dentist too.

Second, I admire you so much for going to your mom's and biting your tongue! I am a huge grudge holder. I had to come to the realization last fall that I was going to have to accept my MIL the way she was. Keep our distance as much as possible, but just deal with her when I have to, as hard as it is. I hope everything works out for the best with your relationship with her! It sounds like it's off to a good start.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. I had a sister who was bipolar, my brother is schizophrenic, and I'm pretty sure my father was either bipolar or severely depressed when he was living. It is so hard to go through. I still have nightmares about my dad to this day, and he's been gone nearly 15 years.

I have a hard time forgetting, though I do forgive pretty easily. The not forgetting does help me hang onto the hurt, though, which really does no one any good.

I once read that holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I try to keep that in mind any time I want to dwell on bad memories. It only hurts me.

Hugs to you.


12:06 PM  
Anonymous Whinger said...

Take heart that you are not a wimp (about a lot of things, but specifically the gum surgery).

My mother is a trooper. She has had fillings with no novacaine and multiple surgeries for a variety of ailments with no complaint.

Except for gum surgery, which she contends was the worst.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous nabbalicious said...

Wow, I am so happy that your mom apologized! I hope it leads to a lot of healing for you. I'm just sorry you had to go through any of this.

I hate the dentist, too, and haven't been in an embarrassingly long time. Yikes.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

In my process of forgiving my mother, it helps to remember what her life was like. My mom had a terrible childhood, and that in turn affected her life and ours.
She really was a terrible mom, but she is a beautiful person--so long as I see what Christ sees.

1:43 PM  
Blogger speckledpup said...

your last

kudo's kid... you've got more guts than me.

proud of you.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Oh, I long ago gave up going to the dentist. Dr. Amy David made sure I'd never return to anything ever resembling a dentist's office for the rest of my life.

I'm sorry everything's so painful for you, Chris, but seeing your mom again was for the best, right? I mean, you're glad you did it?

2:42 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Good girl - you dealt with your mom just right - I'm proud of you!!!

And sorry about the dentist from a fellow wimp...

3:25 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Ok, Chris. Send me your address so that I know where to ship your cookies. Your poor mouth! You can dip them in coffee.

You are just too kind and generous of a person. I'm very glad to hear that she apologized, though. Hugs.

3:42 PM  
Blogger SB said...

man, you're strong.....and I mean that in sooo many ways (all nice)

I have not seen my mom, sisters or brother in almost 7 years. Since I left home and married my ARMY husband. We live everywhere (but always in places that my mom cannot bring herself to travel). We're not talking the Dark Side of the Moon, people. We're talking Alabama (where some might consider the Intellectual Dark Side of the Moon) Alaska, and now Washington DC....

but she has just cut me off.....for no obvious reason.

Now I know what I must do. I must load up on painkillers and numb my very soul and confront her.

Be ropud of staring that pain down. It took a lot, I'm sure...

I love reading your blog. Your humor (and strength) are second only to your beauty...



3:48 PM  
Blogger Meepers said...

Dear Chris,

Just a quick note to say:
WOW! You are an amazing person, as a mother, wife and a daughter and just plain ol' human being. In a completely non-stalkerish way, I've read your archives and I am overwhelmed. You're doing a wonderful job with your family - I keep cackling aloud to myself and reading little excerpts to my husband.

The Big White Linen House looks wonderful from what I've seen, and you are far to slim and lovely looking to be a mom to seven kids! Also: I haaate dental work with the fire of a thousand burning suns as well - my condolences to you.

In short: I'm a HUGE! new fan of T.B.Y.H. and would like to blogroll you if you don't mind. Let me know!


4:50 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

oh how I hate the dentist! I was just there today!

Glad you and your mom got to talk! And that she appologized! That is amazing!

5:02 PM  
Blogger cmhl said...

good for you for seeing your mom! although, perhaps it is telling that you chose to go when doped up, and when your mouth was numb (making it easier not to talk).. ha..

you know, I think you should be thankful you are not destined to receive the unfinished painting.. that doesn't sound terribly warm & fuzzy..

5:10 PM  
Blogger Amah said...

I'm also a Mom that didn't do a real great job when my children were young. I missed my chance with my son - he is gone now - but I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to my daughter. If only once to hear her say "you did the best you could at the time" with some sort of understanding is my goal. Our life wasn't as "out there" as yours, but it wasn't the best either.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Wow. How can I EVER top Spam man's comment?

this has been a very interesting thing to read, coming on the heels of my own family volcano this week. Hugs to you.

And, I'm no LONGER your friend, you gorgeous thing, you.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

My heart goes out to you, Chris. I had a bi-polar sister, so I understand at least some of your pain.

I once read that holding onto resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. So true. I try to remind myself of this whenever I hold onto old hurt. It's hard, though.

Hugs to you.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh, great. My anonymous comment somehow posted earlier, though I was under the impression that it had not. Nothing like reading the same comments twice.

Sorry about that.

1:48 PM  
Blogger judi said...

wow- a fun filled day!
good luck with your mom- i am sure the road will not be smooth-rarely is with bipolar folks. so, i guess just buckle your seat belt and hope for the best. but remember, it is not your responsibility to save her.
as for the dentist-necessary evil, i guess.

3:04 PM  

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