I gave my kids cavities

Bear with me. I took my 5-yr-old to the dentist last Thursday for his regular check-up. All was going well. He sat still, joked with the hygienist, and got a glowing report on his healthy gums. Nice!

Then came the X-rays. After a few minutes of review, the dentist came back to talk to me. She saw the start of two cavities. In my 5-year old’s mouth. Seriously?! My older son just went through a traumatizing process of capping three cavities with silver coverings. I tried to call them his “Iron Man” teeth to make light of the situation, but he’s not stupid. He hated every second of the procedure and can’t wait for his “big” teeth to come in so the silver caps pop off into oblivion. Now, his little brother could be facing the same invasive fate. And it’s my fault.

This dentist visit was on my official Day 4. My liver wasn’t screaming anymore, and the brain fog was thinning. I was feeling hopeful for the first time in days. Then I got this news and a shame wave surged. It’s not that he has cavities on the horizon. It’s why he does.

There’s a cute Mini-Mart five minutes up the road from our house. We call it the “Treat Store.” It has candy, gum, and snacks. It was a safe haven at the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was on lockdown. When the kids’ schools shut down. When I needed to drink again…

See, the “Treat Store” is attached to a liquor store. A liquor store that sells little bottles of vodka. So, it was Mumma’s treat store, too. They know the boys and me there. We built quite the routine over the last several months. My sons would choose their candy and toss it up on the counter. Then, I’d send them over to look in the ice cream counter (i.e., divert their attention) and quietly say to the cashier, “Three in a bag, please.” Mumma’s treat for later that evening.

I took them to the Treat Store every time they asked to go. Every.Single.Time. And on Day 4, with the news of my youngest son’s impending cavities, I realized my selfishness. A better mom would’ve said, “You can’t have candy every day, babies. We’ll go another time.” But I needed my f’n treat. Every.Single.Time. And now my kids’ teeth are paying the price.

Today is Day 10. It’s about a week past that dentist visit. As I think more about it, perhaps we in recovery should give ourselves a break here or there. Maybe it was selfish of me. But there’s always time to turn it around, right? So, like drinking, it’s time to take Flossing by the horns…one day at a time.

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