The hardest lesson I have learned as a parent: sometimes your “best” isn’t good enough…


I struggled with whether or not to write this post. I attempt to make even the most upsetting choices in parenting as positive as humanly possible and this post will have no choice but to across as anything other than self-pitying and whiny. But the fact is that it happened and my response is remorse and feelings of utter and complete failure so I can write no other such thing. I considered not telling the story at all, as it is embarrassing and thoroughly humiliating to admit that as a parent I failed…but as a blogger that wants to share the highs and the lows of what I now feel is the aftereffects of preemie parenting, then without sharing the bad times, I am not being true to my blog and what I set out to do.

So here it is…I failed at being a mother. I dropped a ball that caused my child to be in total and agonizing pain for the last four days. It is 100% all my fault. I am so busy running around and trying to be supermom to a child with a disorder that I forgot to be a mom to a regular ‘ol kid with normal issues.

My son, believe it or not, has an abscess on his lower left molar.

I let this happen. I was literally tearing up on the phone with dentist. Because when it comes to dental health, that falls solely to me and I failed him. Do we brush teeth? Of course, we do! But the main cause of this issue is allowing a child to have a milk bottle far longer than they should. Also, the excessive amounts of juice that I give him (V8 Fusion to supplement his fruit and vegetable aversion) can cause this.

Did I do both of those things?

Yes, I did. With the bottle I had both noble and selfish reasons. At the time, I felt like the noble outweighed the selfish but in light of his current issues…I’m not so sure the selfish didn’t play a bigger part than I was willing to admit. Jp hates milk. He wont drink it from a cup no matter the amount of begging and coercion. So I let him have the bottle at night and nap far, far longer than I should. I told myself it was the only way I could get the calcium he needed into him so he could have strong teeth and bones.

Oh, the irony….

I overlooked the side effects of that decision and now my poor baby is in pain. Instead of strong teeth, he now has an appointment at the dentist. What have I done?! When my husband felt the lump last night I wanted to die. There are things in this world that I can’t control and I have learned to stand and fight in those situations. But this one…this could have been prevented if I had put half as much research in that I do normally. I would have seen, as I did last night when I looked into it, that teeth problems are more prominent in preemies. I should have done my due diligence before the problem and not after.

If this were a graded test on parenting, I would receive an “F”. Probably the first of my life.

The reason I deserve the failing grade was because as much as I gave him the bottle for the Calcium, I did it, too, because it calmed the nighttime drama. I took it away once when I thought it was “time” and it was tears, fits, and rage. Since I couldn’t get him to drink the milk from the cup I happily went back to a rule I knew I was breaking because it “worked”. I was lazy and that laziness he is paying for, not me. I couldn’t feel worse right now.

Because here is where I truly missed the boat…

I have known for a month that check-up time was upon us. Days kept coming and going and in between therapy, play dates, structured outside play, and keeping the house I simply just kept forgetting. I kept saying to myself, “Oh, I’ll call tomorrow”, or, “I’ll call on Monday”. Then Monday came and went and here we are. So yes, this is all my fault. If I had taken him in at the normal time then he wouldn’t have been in pain for days. They would have caught it earlier and we could have avoided the medicine forcing, the fevers, the sweating, the barely eating. All of it. I can take that responsibility.

When my husband found the lump last night (I have had one and know what it is) I immediately shut down. I was so angry with myself, so furious that I had put something so vital on the back burner. Where was my common sense? How could I let this happen? I took Jp upstairs and we watched a movie-or more accurately, he watched a movie while I cried quietly so he wouldn’t notice- and really started to think about how I could reprioritize my focus.

Jp is a kid first and has a disorder second.

I have it all backwards. I am too focused on everything else. What I need to see is that his general health and well being is the most important thing. Everything else is secondary. There is no intellectual progress if he isn’t well. There is no future if I don’t make sure his present is healthy and happy. I sincerely just wish my beautiful son didn’t have to be in horrifying pain for me to come to that realization.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a dentist appointment I must attend. 😦

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Childhood Development Parenting Parenting and Childhood Development


Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

19 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Awwww. I’m sorry he has to go to the dentist! I can relate to how you feel. I feel bad when I put stuff like this on the back burner too. But you are still a good mom! After all you are crying about the mistake and getting it fixed immediately now that you know there is a problem. And as far as the bottle/juice issue I can relate to that too. My boys both have weird food allergies that cause them to be a little delayed when It comes to what they can eat and when. Your son was a preemie!! So what if he still drinks a bottle! He won’t forever. Hang in there and try to move on an tell yourself you’ll do better next time. That’s all we can do as moms. We will make mistakes and sometimes they will hurt but it’s hard to remember every physical and emotional need our kids have!! Hope he’s feeling better soon.

    • You’re the best! Thanks for the words of encouragement. I needed them….it’s been a loooooooong day. It may not be an tooth infection after all but a viral gum infection that he got from the play dates. We’re having xrays tomorrow so I’m crossing my fingers. πŸ™‚

      • No, it wasn’t! I reposted and have another appointment tomorrow to confirm. Though he does have the Herpes Simplex Virus and it will be something that he has to deal with -which I know because I had it when I was young, too- and it is the worst! Especially when you’re in high school. πŸ˜‰

        Though I am ecstatic that he won’t have to have a tooth pulled. You, as a student of psychology, know the effects of that on a child!

  2. We’ve all been there. We’ve all made mistakes. Those that judge as though they’ve never done anything wrong are hiding something.

    Another mom blog I follow quoted Maya Angelou in a similar post, and I felt it fit me. It may help you, too.

    “When you know better, you do better.”

    Hang in there!

    • I love that! After our appointment today it may not be a tooth infection after all but now I know better and will never drop that ball again!

      I love the quote! Thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement. πŸ™‚

  3. Woah, easy on yourself, my goodness if that’s your worst failing as a parent high five to you. It’s awful when our children are ill and it’s worse when we are in a way responsible but many many parents myself included give their children bottles for the same reason you did and they do not get an abscyss. He will heal quickly and all will be well

    • Thank you! When it comes to my son, I can be so hard on myself and I have to learn to take a step back and realize that I’m human. But I don’t think I will be putting off appointments again, either. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! It’s nice to see new faces. πŸ™‚

  4. If it makes you feel any better, I just got a 15 minute lecture at the dentist yesterday about how I was doing a shitty job brushing Destroyer’s teeth. Apparently giving her a toothbrush full of toothpaste to chew on isn’t good enough.
    I have been too lazy to fight with her about it, and he gave it to me. ( Her teeth look good, though. Thank goodness)
    I still let her have a bottle of milk after her bath at 19 months old. Not in the crib, but in the evening. She doesn’t like her milk any other way.
    So. Even though I’m pretty sure you’re not a shitty mom, I will extend my comraderie in our “dental failures”. Just so you don’t have to go it alone.
    Chin up.

    • I love you, Cookie. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for making me feel like I’m not in the lazy boat alone. πŸ˜‰ We are having X rays tomorrow but as it turns out it may actually end up being a viral infection on his gums from a contaminated toy (most likely from the play dates I feel so proud of). Irony. Thanks for sharing your story…it truly made me feel better and god bless your honesty!

  5. STOP IT!!!! You’re awesome, JP is awesome. We all get by with a little help from our friends, be it V8 or milk bottles or whatever. Babies weaned at exactly 12 months and fed pre-chewed spinach and organic goat yogurt get abscesses too. JP needed the calcium, and he needs the fruits and veggies too. (BTW, have you tried making him smoothies? It’s amazing how much spinach you can get into a kid when you pulverize it along with a banana, juice, frozen fruit and yogurt. He’ll never know what hit him.

    the mama whose kid didn’t get diagnosed with Down syndrome until 6 months of age, 6 months of barely nursing, 6 months of delayed development, yada yada yada

    • I love you! Thank you for making me feel like less of a total failure. πŸ˜‰

      It’s so HARD when they are so picky to make the “right” decisions. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I have to learn to stand when I make them and know what I did, I did for a reason. Though letting appointments slip by won’t be a mistake I make again. Things happen but feeling like I wasn’t “on top of things” as I like to be really is what made me feel so terrible.

      Ok, I have to ask. Why did you wait for a diagnosis? Denial? I know the place…I lived there once, too! LOL πŸ™‚

      • Okay. Get this. Noah was born at home – I had a midwife. The Lord was preparing me before Noah was even born – I asked my midwife halfway through my pregnancy – so, if my baby happened to have Down syndrome, would he need to be born in the hospital, would it be dangerous for him to be born at home? She said no, there’s nothing they could really do (she was wrong – if he would have had a serious heart issue which is common with Down’s, being in the hospital could have saved his life). Anyway, she told me not to worry – I had already had so many healthy babies, it was very unlikely my baby would have Down syndrome and I was only 35 anyway.

        So Noah was born, and the first time I looked in his round little face, I said to my midwife, “June – look at his eyes.” She said, “I know what you’re thinking, it’s not that.” (My hubby has almond-shaped eyes, so she thought it was just that.)

        He had good Apgars and no Simian crease. So I keep thinking he looks like he has Down syndrome, took him to my pediatrician. “Noooooooo, Mrs. Dunn, (pat pat), he doesn’t have Down syndrome. If he had Down syndrome, he would be floppy, blah blah blah.” And, of course, I didn’t want him to have Down syndrome, so I was delighted to have my pediatrician tell me he seriously doubted he had Downs, “and even if he did, we wouldn’t be doing anything differently because he is so healthy.”

        Fast forward six months, six months of having my mom tell me over and over I needed to have him tested, he was not a normal baby (gee, thanks mom). Six months of trips to the doctor, “No, Mrs. Dunn, he is just taking his time doing things. I don’t see Down’s.” Finally I wanted to know for sure because I felt for sure we should be doing things differently if he had Down’s, so I told the doc to test him.

        A few days later his nurse called me to tell me the test came back positive. I was SO mad he made her call me. So I told her I wanted to ask him questions myself. He called me and said about the Down syndrome, “If I was a betting man, I would have lost that bet.” Duh.

        Finally got him to a cardiologist – apparently he had a hole in his heart, but it closed up on its own (common in DS). He is amazingly healthy for a kid with Down syndrome. His speech therapist today even commented that considering that he has Down syndrome, all his facial structures and anatomy for speech is very, very good.

        And talk about a lazy mom – I still take Noah back to the same pediatrician. He’s been our doc for 14 years. I really think he was just in denial for us, and now any test I want run on my kiddos he does without a second glance. It really puts the burden on me, but I’m learning that’s just life when you’re a mom. I figure at least I know his background, if I take my kids to a new doctor I’ll have to go into it pretty clueless.

        No doctor will ever care for your kids as much as you do.

        And you’re so right about making decisions. Make it, remember why you made it, and stand up for it. There are pros and cons of nearly every decision we make, ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids. You were on top of things. You were just on top of his diet versus his dental health. Sounds like a good choice to me. Without that milk you gave him, his teeth would probably be in even worse shape than they are.

        Ummm. Gotta run. A little birdie told me it’s time to make a dentist appointment for Noah.


    • Wow! That is a crazy story! I can’t believe they didn’t do any testing when you showed concerns. It seems so black and white when it comes to DS that I had no idea that it was harder to diagnose. Same pediatrician, huh? Wait, what I am talking about?! I still go to the same pediatrician that told me, “No, he’ll catch up. Don’t worry! He’s fine.” and “Why are you taking him to speech therapy? He is doing fine for his age.”

      Oh, and the SLP I want to punch and on and on….lol. Once Jp loves someone I just can’t move him. He gets so uncomfortable in those types of situations I would never dream of moving him as long as he’s happy.

      It’s gonna be a loooooooong life. πŸ˜‰ And yes, call the dentist. They’re snotty when you miss appointments! πŸ˜‰

  6. I finally took CJ to his first dentist appointment when he was 3 years old. He had like 6 cavities. I was nearly in tears when the dentist told me and felt like the worst mother ever! Once he got the fillings, he ended up cracking his teeth every time he fell on the play ground, and one time he also got an abcess from a cracked tooth that I didn’t realize till after his cheek was all swollen. Which all lead to just having four of his molars pulled.
    You are far from failing as a mother! It does suck when you are going through the dental craziness, especially if he needs sedation, but you will overcome and JP will be all right πŸ™‚

    • Oh, you poor thing! It’s so hard when they tell you to feed them “healthier” and brush more and you’re thinking, “Yeah, come to my house and see how that flies before you are full of all of this advice.”, right? When they won’t eat what is good for them, you ending up giving them the waffle even though it’s full of sugar and it’s 8:45. What are we supposed to do…let them starve. You are the one person I know that can identify with this age and the poor eating habits and it’s so hard to combat that as well as keep their teeth healthy!

      Give CJ hugs from Jp and I. (Baby, too!)

  7. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I was a respite caregiver for 24 years and these things happen to even super parents.(if there is such a thing) It’s a lot to juggle. In the family I worked with the longest the child without a diability essentially went years without anyone noticing he had severe vision loss. When he finally, through some random school check-up that they must do a lot less often than when I was a kid, had it discovered he commented to me on the walk home from school after he got glasses that he had forgotten that trees had leaves. It had all just been a green blur for that long. I felt like I should have noticed too but in the things I did with him there was no obvious clue.

    When he was a baby and I was doing his regular old boring child who doesn’t need medication, and machines catheters and surgery type care. (which was a nice relief) I weighed and measured him every month as we had a book from the government that encouraged that. His mother eventually said to carry on doing it but unless he fell right off the charts she didn’t want to know as she had enough of that the first time around. The attitude startled me a bit at the time but agt the same time well there’s no denyng the exhaustion that goes with all of it.

    The best parent bloggers out there. The only useful ones in my opinion are the ones who are not afraid to say oh boy did I ever make a mistake here because it frees other people up to admit those things that slip by and that eat away with guilt if you secretly suspect everyone else is somehow managing it perfectly.

    Dentists and I don’t go together. I moved so am currently hiding out from my dentist who doesn’t know how to find me which is silly as I am 44 and my dental coverage is in two year lumps and he does way too much pro bono work on me already that I shoudln’t cheat him out of the little the government will give him to torture me but …

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! And as for being a “useful blogger”, I genuinely try. When I started this blog it was just to process an autism diagnosis and develop a community of moms but it has evolved in such a weird and wonderful way.

      My community still is moms of autism and we still have the most in common. Though my son recently developed imaginative play which means that he will not be diagnosed as autistic. This is all the “sleeper effects” of premature birth. There is so little information on this particular issue, particularly in the tangible blog form, that I have taken on this sense of responsibility in sharing EVERYTHING in the hopes that I can help someone else one day from making the mistakes I am making from sheer trial and error. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story with me…I can understand the mother’s resistance to having to feel the highs and the lows. I may not have taken that stance, but it is understandable. It’s a hard road but I think it’s the one we sign on for no matter where that road leads us. And as for the story of the boy with the glasses…Oh, I teared up! It must have been such a magical moment for him to realize the world was full of such beauty! πŸ™‚

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment…it means so much to hear from new people and learn from so many others out there! Here in Texas we say, “‘Priciate Cha!” (that’s southern for I appreciate you!)

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