Many times as a mother, you have to rise to whatever need your child has – nurse, chef, driver, and even sometimes dentist! Until you reach an actual expert, YOU are the expert! Though it’s more like expert in training! lol. It can be nerve wracking! But moms are the suavest extemporizers. It’s in our DNA.

I was in the living room when I heard my daughter scream from the bathroom. “Aunty Monica! Why is she crying?” I asked. “She wont let me brush her teeth” Aunty Monica replied. I picked up my younger daughter who had been nursing and sleeping in my lap and head to the bathroom. My big girl is standing there with defiant tears in her eyes, daring me to ask her to open her mouth. So I weigh my options. Ask Aunty Monica to force her to brush her teeth and have my daughter cry down the house, or just let her go this once. I chose my sanity. “Leave her tonight. I will brush her teeth myself tomorrow”. Her sister was also getting restless and would need to feed soon. “One thing at a time abeg” I said to myself.

The next morning, I hear crying from the bathroom again. “Aunty Monica, what is wrong? “She wont let me brush her teeth and her gums are bleeding”. What?! I hurry to the bathroom where indeed my daughters gums were bleeding. This time, her upper lip looks swollen. “Awww munchkin, whats wrong?” I say as I try to look in her mouth. But she wouldn’t let me. Externally I’m calm but internally I’m freaking out. Cue irrational internal monologue: “Look what I’ve done. She went one day without brushing her teeth and she now has gingivitis because of me. If i had brushed her teeth like i was supposed to, this wouldn’t have happened”. So I proceed to brush her teeth as gently as possible. We are all still recovering from that screaming match.

I then call the dentist to book an appointment. I end up on the phone with Dr Ihejiahi the owner of the dental clinic and I tell him “My daughter’s gums are bleeding and I’m not sure what to do”. He asks us to come in so he can take a look. “Well, I also wanted to find out the typical age children start going to the dentist” I asked. “I can start seeing patients from about 2 years old or when they have all their milk teeth” he says. Cue irrational internal monologue: “my daughter meets neither of these criteria so this issue must be my fault”. Cue mommy guilt. I go online and google ‘bleeding gums in toddlers’ and find out it can be caused by gingivitis, dry gums, impact…I put these in my defense arsenal. LOL!

The next day I bundle everyone into the car including Aunty Monica and the offending toothbrush so that every potential culprit would be present at the dentists. Dr Ihejiahi meets us in the reception area, looks in my daughters mouth and we start to chat. I start. “Hmm, maybe its gingivitis”. He responds saying “maybe….. but her upper lip also looks swollen”. “Yes!! I know! But you see, it wasn’t swollen the first day she refused to brush her teeth” I say. He responds “Kids are very resilient. She might have bumped her mouth somewhere, cried for a few seconds and moved on. By the time you tried to brush her teeth, she felt pain, but there was no evidence why because the swelling only set in the next day”. “Okay that makes sense” I say. “But then how do we explain the bleeding?” I ask. And then it clicks! “Oh! the swollen lip meant that her mouth was partially open and that dried out her gums and caused it to bleed?” I ask excitedly. “Exactly” Dr Ihejiahi responds.

We chatted a little more but concluded that the bleeding would resolve itself once the swelling went down. “Come back when she has all her milk teeth” he started to say. But I was already distracted because as I watched my daughter run around the reception, I noticed the sole coming off her shoe. A shoe which was fine just a minute before! “Oh boy, how do I fix that now?” I thought to myself while mentally gathering my cobbler skills. SMH.

Afterwards I realized in the past thirty six hours I had been judge, counselor, driver, doctor, dentist and more! All for what turned out to be minor issues. When I feel bad about some aspect of my mothering I just need to remember I’m mom and madam of all trades. I’ve paid my dues, I deserve some accolades, I deserve to be lauded. Even if it’s just quietly to myself…though a bit of a parade wouldn’t hurt either.

Mothers, we really do wear many hats. Nyem aka biko! (Translation: Clap for me please!)

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