Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Not ready for

So my mom called me this afternoon. The long story short version: she broke a tooth, a tooth with an old filling, on a Butterfinger bar, and had some headaches in reaching her dentist (she has an appointment tomorrow, though, finally).

Anyway. I kind of sighed and cringed through the call. I am very, very dental phobic. My mom knows I am. She knows I called her about four times to cry at her when *I* broke a tooth over the July fourth weekend a couple years ago. She knows how carefully I vet anything I eat now, and don't eat nuts or hard foods any more. Even hard breadcrusts are either rejected or dunked in tea/water/milk before being consumed.

(Ugh. Yeah, I guess I am a little racoon-like in that respect).

I can tell why she called - she wanted reassurance and the hope that it would JUST take a crown to fix it. (She went through a root canal this past fall - on top of the whole discomfort thing there was also the going-to-a-different-doctor (her long-time dentist doesn't do root canals) and finding-his-office and all that*)

(*My mom may be a bit more like me than I realize)

The good news is the break sounds very, very similar to the break I had happen - if anything, it's smaller - so it sounds very likely a crown prep will do it. And I told her that.

But yeah. This is one of those things I'm not really ready for. I'm having a hard time seeing my parents as fallible in certain ways. Having to be the one who reassures my mom about dental stuff is one of those ways. (And, in a larger sense, I get worried about the whole idea of losing them as sources of reassurance, because then who will reassure me when I need it?)

I also wrote a while back about how she was talking about something that happened when she was a young teen, and I was shocked to hear that other girls in her school looked down on her - they didn't exactly bully but they certainly excluded (which is the most common form of girl-bullying, anyway). And I just sat there, even though I was in my forties at the time, and was shocked - my mother was an unpopular kid? My smart clever kind pretty mother, who should have been by rights, the most justifiably-popular* person (because she was smart AND nice to people) in her school. And she wasn't. And somehow, that killed me a little.

(*There are people who are justifiably popular because they are good people and are kind to everyone else. There are also people who are inexplicably popular - because they are mean or something. And then there are the unjustifiably-unpopular and the justifiably-unpopular and the just plain was-unlucky-so-is-unpopular. I class myself in school somewhere between "unlucky-unpopular" and "possibly-justifiably" because I was a little egghead who cried easily, but also I came from a family not wealthy enough to afford the designer jeans all the popular girls had. And I didn't always have the keenest grasp of social structure and things, but that really wasn't my fault, it's how my brain is wired.)

Though I generally have a hard time with the fallibility of people I look up to. I remember once as a teen, when I was very, very angry at myself about something (I think it was failing the driving test) and I was just generally slagging on all the things I thought were wrong with myself, and I screamed, "and I'm ugly, UGLY! Why do I have this face?!?!!" and my mom - she was in the car with me, and we had just pulled in the drive at home - turned to me, and quietly and perhaps with tears in her eyes (they were in her voice, but I didn't look closely enough at her to see her eyes) said, "you're prettier than I was."

And that shocked me into silence.

I still can't quite believe what she said, having seen pictures of my mother as a teen (and especially as a young adult - in photos as a young married she was almost glamorous, at least to my eyes). Though I've softened my stance on my own appearance in the intervening years, still, my mother was pretty, and I think especially given the times, she was "prettier" in the sense of looking like what was considered pretty when she was growing up than I was during my times (the 1950s vs. the 1980s). (Then again, I never had the horror that was a spiral perm)

But yeah. One of the hardest things I find about getting older is the thought of giving up the role of the "child" and having to be the "parent" to everyone.

No comments: