About the Time I Might Have Lied to My Kids’ Dentist


Being judged sucks.

It is like the worst feeling ever.

Being judged as a mom extra-sucks.  Some of us are able to rise above and not really give a shit if people look at us askance when the kids are taking a tanty in Target, eating crackers off the floor, or using a pacifier at the age of four.

It sucks because none of us moms wake up in the morning and ask ourselves, “Hmmmm, how can I fuck up my children and skate deliriously close to the edge of my sanity today?”

I promise you.  None of us wake up and want to deliberately do crap that messes up our kids and gives them fodder about which to chat with a therapist like me later in life.  But sometimes we have to pick battles for our own sanity.  Sometimes we pick the wrong battles.  It sucks, but being judged for it sucks even more.

So there was this one time I took the kids to the dentist.  Emily was three and it was her first visit to the dentist.  I was enormously proud of how cooperative and well-behaved both of my children were for their exam.  The hygienists even commented on what great kids they were.

Then the dentist came and gave their mouths the once-over.  He mumbled some stuff about Jack needing braces in a few years, and I went off to my happy place in Hawaii on Kailua Beach, because I could not deal with the thought of financing braces.

Then he checked Emily’s teeth.

“Ohhhhhh kaaaayyyy,” he said.  He counted her teeth, asked her to bite down and then looked up at me.  “Does she. . .?” He asked, wagging his thumb at me and miming thumb-sucking.

“Oh, no!” I gasped in mock surprise and horror.  “She doesn’t suck her thumb.  Never has.”

“Aha.  Well, she has a pretty significant gap here in her bite,” he pointed out.  “I guess we will just have to wait and see how her adult teeth grow in.”

I collected my perfectly behaved children and left the dentist’s office with a stone of remorse in my gut.

I hadn’t actually lied to him.  I hadn’t.  It was 100% true that Emily has never sucked her thumb.  But she did still use a pacifier to go to bed at night.  And sometimes for naps.  And sometimes would sneak it during the day while she was watching television and I wouldn’t necessarily say anything about it because it gave me three or four minutes of peace.

So, I don’t know.  On a scale of 1-10 in the spectrum of motherhood foibles, I don’t think it is the worst thing I’ve ever done.  Actually I don’t think it is really that bad at all.  I got over it and I didn’t lose any sleep.

But I do wonder why I was so afraid to be judged by that dentist.

And I wonder why that feeling of mommy-guilt and shame is so difficult to bear.

Have you ever told a lie about your parenting to cast you in a better life?  Please share in the comments below!  I love hearing from you!  xoxoxo.  


19 responses »

  1. I say even if she did suck her thumb it’s not worth that kind of judgmental crap. I hate it when professionals act like they’re the only ones who know anything about kids. I once had a phone triage nurse LITERALLY tell me I was a bad mom because we waited several hours to call about a possible broken arm in our daughter. We hadn’t called initially because our daughter didn’t seem to be in much pain, was able to use her arm, and went to sleep just fine. When she woke up in tears with pain, we knew it was time to call. And I definitely did NOT need to be judged by a bitchy, holier-than-thou nurse. I think your tiny little prevarication was perfectly fine at this dentist visit!

  2. Haha loved this post. Judgement has very little place in life, and definitely not in the realms of parenting (although we all did it before we had kids! whoops! karma…biting…me…in…the…ass….) My almost-three-year-old consumes most of his liquids out of his bottle. He loves it and I think, what the hell, he’s not going to be drinking a bottle in college. His nursery workers always tell me when he has taken a sippy cup at lunchtime as if it’s a huge step forward and I just smile and nod along and go “oh great…” and then hand him his bottle. What the hell is the rush to grow up… I sucked my two fingers until I was probably 7-8 years old at night to go to sleep. It made me feel safe. And I never needed braces!

    • YAAASSSSS!!! This comment is everything!! I think that’s the thing with my daughter is she is my second child and I have the perspective to know that these things don’t last forever. My son taught us all that the hard way so now it’s a lot easier, lol!! I also know that between me and my hub’s genetics the kids are going to need braces anyway so who cares? Thanks so much for your comment. Xoxo!!!

  3. Our youngest (now almost three) likely sucked his thumb in utereo. I tried to get him to take a pacifier, knowing at least when the time came I could take it away (my older two had them until age 3 when the pacy fairy came). I did some research – and most of it not only suggests that they’ll stop on their own – but that it’s good for them to figure out how to self soothe. It also said its not that the whole teeth thing is overinflated. That being said though – don’t know what I’ll do when/if I’m asked.

  4. Ah yes! Been there, done that, but it was her pediatrician & she asked about thumb sucking which my kiddo didn’t do. It was the pacifier & I didn’t bring that information up of course. Judgement of any kind as a mom has always felt so personal & that’s my only explanation for why I wasn’t as honest as I could have been. I think as parents we get judged by everyone & maybe it feels like it’s just too much because the Dr is like the ultimate authority on our children. Just a guess really, but there you have it.

  5. Ohhhh yes. My daughter’s family doctor asked – when E was 2 years old – how she slept at night. The truth was, she still nursed all night, every night. But I *knew* if I told her that, she would judge me to the high heavens. So I lied. I totally and completely lied. “Oh, you know, she sleeps pretty well! Maybe wakes once or twice a night.” HA! The real answer would’ve been, “She nurses all night and wakes every time I try to roll over/go pee/etc…”

    • When I was concerned about my 4 year old still coming into our bed at night, our pediatrician was like “I gotta tell you. I’ve got four kids. And my youngest is 9. My wife sleeps in another room and the 9 year old crawls into bed with me every night. We just do what we have to do as parents. You’re fine. He’ll be fine. He’ll grow out of it. Don’t worry, he’s doing great.” I was so thankful that he wasn’t judgy, because I was really feeling the pressure. I hate feeling judged, I do enough judging of myself!

      • That is one amazing pediatrician! And you are so right, we give ourselves the hardest times of all. I learned the hard way with my first one that some kids do things on their own time, and that’s okay. They all end up where they are supposed to be eventually. Thanks for chiming in. ooxxoo!!

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