Road sign warning of "hard work ahead", against panoramic blue sky.

Our Story Begins:
It’s Time to Take Care of You!


It came from the dentist, of all places.

“It” being a piece of advice I hadn’t anticipated. People have advice all the time, much of it unwanted:

“They grow up so fast, enjoy every moment!” Absolutely, they grow up too fast, my oldest is already in college. But I cannot bring myself to enjoy moments like having to scream at my child when, for the nth time she did her homework but forgot to turn it in and is now failing her classes.

“You should really get a nanny.”  Between the finances and the pure, unadulterated gall at assuming I cannot cook, clean, clothe or handle my children doesn’t really warrant a response.

But this isn’t about bad advice. The dentist’s office gave me some that I already knew but wasn’t following.


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Let me start at the beginning: Noah, my 10-year-old son, had a toothache. It had gotten bad enough he couldn’t sleep and I stayed up with him and got him into the dentist. Knowing I had to pull him out of school they asked if I wanted to bring his twin brother, Sam, in as well. Just for a checkup. The three of us came in and poor Noah’s baby tooth, though not ready to come out yet, was cracked and after trying to fill it they simply had to pull it. He really didn’t want to have his tooth pulled but knew they had to do it.

Sam had a cavity, too, but his was small enough to have his tooth wait until later.

Then the hygienist came out and looked at me.

“We have time to fit you in to at least get X-rays and look at your teeth, Dave. You want to come back?” I must have looked a bit bewildered. I have spent more than my fair share of time at the dentist lately and was a bit taken aback.

Related: Our Story Begins: Are You A Mother Or A Martyr?

“You haven’t been in here in a long, long time.”

Here’s where the advice came in.

“We know it’s hard to get in here and since you’re here we thought you should get looked at. It’s not just about them, you know. You really need to take care of yourself, too.”

There it was. I’d been in and out of the dentist over the last year but never been in myself. I’d stayed home with sick kids but went in to work when I was sick because I needed the days for when they needed me home.

At that point, what do you tell the person in front of you, no? I don’t think so, I’m okay letting my teeth go unchecked?

Related:  Our Story Begins: Our Story Begins: A Change in Perspective, A Change in Me

Let me be clear: yes. . . I’m consistently exhausted. Yes . . . I’m almost constantly on my feet. No . . . I can’t seem to ever catch up on the laundry or the cleaning. Yes . . . I seem to run out of good ideas for dinner.

But no . . . I never thought of myself as trying to be a martyr or act put upon. I chose to have these little people in my life, whether they were intention or accidental, they’re here, it matters not. This wasn’t their choice. But in one sentence the hygienist woke me up to the fact that I’d forgotten they need me to be healthy as much as I need to make sure they’re healthy.

I got up and walked back to get my X-rays because, simply, it was time to take care of myself.

What about you? Do you make your appointments, go to the doctor, get your teeth checked? Do you take time for yourself?


Dave Manoucheri

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.