This morning I read a beautifully written post that, as happens frequently with Mom-101, coursed its way through familiar grooves in my working-mom scar tissue. It was only an hour before that I’d been at the dentist, Finley in tow, to have Briar seen. A tooth ache last Thursday led to a Friday morning call, Friday afternoon antibiotic and a Monday morning appointment. Under any other circumstances this would have been a huge win.

Follow through, organization, resolution!

Unfortunately the I-got-this attitude that so often sees me through, came right up and kicked me in the ass. The pineapple and coconut gum numbing stuff wasn’t working, the anesthesia didn’t seem to take, and then Finley spied the needle. Briar began to buck, tears streamed silently down her cheeks and the walls closed in. I had two daughters I couldn’t soothe, an environment I couldn’t control and, of course, an audience. There were furrowed brows and barely concealed, stage-quality tsk-tsks. Finley should not have been there, I realized that, but it is in those moments when a decision is proven to be less than perfect, that we should try to spare judgement.

Give me a withering look as I leave, don’t gawk as my family endures the consequences of a decision made in an effort to ease the most pain. How about a “way-to-go” for having the kids at the dentist? An “Atta girl” for having books and dolls? Even a silent, appreciative nod for keeping them entertained and quiet in the lobby and for raising them to smile and respond to the sing-songy questions you ask?

My hands shook, my heart raced and an internal monologue of , “You just can’t ever get it right, can you ‘manda?” ran through my burning head. The failure of the bum tooth and even worse appointment throbbed, then the dentist looked at me and said that he wouldn’t be wiggling the tooth out today and that Briar had done great. I nearly crumpled to my knees.

She did great.

I know that. They both did. We all did. But here’s the thing, we have to go back. Briar will be resistant, terrified actually. My schedule won’t be any easier. Somehow we’ll still be a production, loud and sloppy compared to those around us. I dread it and already feel depleted and defeated. I have to shake this, because as the work-day transitions to at-home time, the pace doesn’t slow, their needs don’t soften to match my reserves.

I want to cry, the part of me that thinks if I’d watered the juice down longer or started brushing her teeth sooner that this wouldn’t have happened. I hate that in these low moments I allow the twisted idea that there is some parallel life that was mine for the taking had I made different decisions haunt me.

I am a good mom. These are happy and healthy girls despite a bad tooth here and there. Today was just a really low day.