I read every word of What to Expect When You're Expecting when I was pregnant. Every word. Knowing me, I probably had the book annotated and highlighted before I was pregnant. I wanted to be prepared. This was back in the day when I thought "being prepared" was actually a thing. I look back now and think, "How cute of me."
Even when my kids were really little I'd think of the high ticket items like "cars" and "college" and have a slight moment of panic. This summer I was mindlessly perusing Facebook when I stumbled upon a thread where my friends were talking about the cost of braces. I read nervously through the comments. "$5,000 at least." "I spent $7,500 for each of my four kids and insurance didn't cover any of it." I instantly had sweaty man pits.
I'm not sure why I thought braces would still cost the same amount of money as they did when I awkwardly sported them 25 years ago, but I was living in a sweet state of inflation denial up until that morbid night Facebook broke the news to me about what was in our near future.
We've managed to hit the jackpot in the teeth department. Four kids. Each with crooked teeth and significant jaw/bite issues. Even if their teeth were perfectly straight they would need braces to fix their jaw issues. There are times when Anson can't even open his mouth wide enough to take a bite out of a sandwich. The first time I found out about his under-bite was from our pediatrician, not our dentist. "He doesn't have tetanus. He has an under-bite, Mrs. Hendrick." Oh. Right. Duh.
There's a lot I wish parenting books would have prepared me for, and this is one of them. When I was 8 weeks pregnant sitting on the couch sipping ice cold cherry coke to keep from puking, it would have been great to read a paragraph that went sort of like this -
"If you're going to panic about something, panic about braces. They usually come first, and they are expensive. By the time your child will need them, these tiny pieces of metal will probably cost one million dollars. And you know what? Even if that baby squirming around in your insides doesn't have a legitimate reason for needing them, like lock jaw and chronic headaches from a ridiculous under-bite - it won't matter. You can lay in bed at night thinking about how unfair it is that there are babies whose bellies burn with hunger in this world, whose basic needs aren't being met while you consider further perfecting your child's relatively perfect life, but you'll eventually sigh and whisper to yourself, "I know. I do. But. Life is full of hard parts. Too full of those I say. So when those rich and beautiful moments are gifted to him, I don't ever want him to fight back a smile. I want him to laugh with wide-mouthed abandon and never squander one second self-consciously considering his teeth." You'll find a way to fill your child's mouth with braces and live with the friction. You'll walk out of the orthodontist's office with empty pockets and a bouncy teenager who can't wait to show his friends and family his red and green bands. You'll take a deep breath, proudly look at your boy, smile, and think to yourself, "This doesn't make very much sense."
Very little about this parenting stuff ever does. That may have been all I needed someone to tell me 13 years ago as I sat sipping that frigid cherry coke.