It Feels Selfish To Take Care of Myself

by Ginger on January 31, 2012

in I'm a Disaster

Yesterday, I spent 2 hours at the dentist, putting my 2012 dentist time at 4 hours…with another 10 hours scheduled before the end of March.

I’ve written before about my crappy teeth, and while I didn’t end up taking the cheap doctor up on the cheap veneers (thank goodness), I *AM* finally starting the process of getting crowns. They are not cheap, they are not covered by insurance, but N.C. and I have talked about it for a few years and finally decided that it was time to do what we could to save some of my teeth. My 14 hours of dental work will get me 6 crowns, a new nightguard, and a little bit of whitening for my other teeth (because if I’m gonna pay a ridiculous amount of money for new teeth, why would I want them to be yellow to start with?).

And I’ll admit, the whole thing seems incredibly selfish and overly indulgent.

My husband gets frustrated when I say that to him. Because to him (and probably to normal people) the idea of doing work that will help me keep my teeth isn’t selfish, it’s smart. The idea of avoiding a mouth full of dentures or implants at a relatively early age isn’t cosmetic, or about beauty, or about anything other than taking care of yourself.

But here’s the thing. I gladly and willingly do little things for myself all the time. I take time for myself to blog because it makes me happy. I buy the foods I like because I enjoy them. I (try) to take time off when I’m sick. Heck, when Jackson was a baby and I was on maternity leave, I made it a point to shower and do my makeup every day because it made me feel better. I get that, and I get how important it is.

But spending REAL money on myself? I mean, REAL money? Not $20 here, or $5 there, but the kind of money that you have to save and scrimp, the kind of money that you know could pay down debt or build your 401k or geez, even the kind of money that would let you take an honest to goodness vacation? To take that kind of money and spend it on myself, on something that EVERYONE categorizes as cosmetic (even though for me, it’s not really)?

Well, like I said, it feels selfish. And overly indulgent.

I’ve been fighting that feeling since we made the decision last fall. I’ve been trying to tell myself that taking care of myself, even if it’s something that is considered cosmetic, is important. That I need teeth for this little thing called eating that I’m rather fond of (and that my body rather requires).  That it’s not selfish to put myself first once in a while.

So I’ve spent four hours at the dentist this month. And I’ve scheduled another 10 hours over the next two months. And I tell myself that it’s not wrong, it’s not selfish, it’s not BAD to spend money on something I need. And that getting a pretty new smile is just a bonus on top of the necessity of the crowns.

Maybe if I keep telling myself that, it’ll stop feeling like a lie at some point, right?


shasta January 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Husband and I go back and forth about this kinda thing, too, but we ultimately come back to the notion that the dynamic of the family should include the ability to cater to EVERYONE’S wants and needs. That’s not giving every person everything they want all the time, but more of an understanding and acknowledgement that as a family unit, we’ve come to expect and appreciate certain lifestyle perks, and we want to keep things going that way. Sure, some things get priority over others, but as long as those basics are met, I don’t think it’s wrong to do whatever you want as as long as everyone in the family is cool with it.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Yeah, it was basically my husband who pushed me to finally do it. Because that’s how he thinks too. And it’s how I think…in theory. But it’s so much harder in practice!

Life As Wife January 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I’m the same way about expensive things. I think we’re like that because we count up the total and scruntinize in our minds where all the money “could have gone.” (Three bills, two packs of diapers, gas tank etc.)

Take care of yourself though! It’s a necessity.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm

YES! I can’t help but think about everything else we could/should be doing with that money! And it’s not like we spend big money on much, so to spend it on myself? It’s SO HARD!

Tragic Sandwich January 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I’m dealing with this, too. I do things for myself fairly regularly (although I am overdue for that monthly massage, ahem), but they’re on a smaller scale. I’ve been thinking recently about getting my teeth whitened, and Mr. Sandwich is totally behind me on that, but I have to get over my own objections: (a) Seriously, it was not that long ago that we didn’t all have to have perfectly white teeth, and I’m not talking about that stereotype of “English teeth”, and (b) I actually feel fine about my teeth, but I am aware that this could be part of how I present myself to the world, and I hate that I’m aware of that, even though it’s the reason I would do it. I feel like it’s just vanity, when in truth it’s a pragmatic job search move.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm

We are our own worst road blocks sometimes! Especially when it feels “frivolous”.

I will say this, I did the first part of the whitening yesterday, and I already feel like my smile is so much better than it was 24 hours ago. I feel like smiling so much more, and I haven’t even fixed the biggest problems!

Courtney January 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I struggle with this too. I’m hesitant to even join a book club because that will cut into time with my family and getting stuff done at home but at the same time, I love love love book club.

And I hear ya on the teeth thing. I have been walking around with a chipped tooth for years. I need veneers/crowns/something and it so freaking expensive! So I just keep putting it off and go around looking kinda like a pirate. Arrrr.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Well, and let’s be honest too. It’s so hard to spend the money on something like your TEETH, when you could spend it on something slightly less painful/annoying/involving Novocaine? (Or is that just me?)

KT January 31, 2012 at 1:49 pm

OH man I know exactly how you are feeling. I may have to get braces so that I can avoid root canals/crowns/fracturing teeth, etc. but it makes me feel SO BAD. Insurance covers exactly $0 of adult braces, but it is money that could go towards our house or a myriad of other things. Sucks, but it has to be done.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm

It’s one of those things–it’s totally all about you, and necessary, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel bad to spend so much on yourself!

Jennifer January 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I have this whole not taking care of myself thing down pat. That’s why this year I’m really focusing on doing some things for myself that needs to be done. From a health standpoint, it is really a way of you taking care of your family as well. Trust me. I put off going to the dentist for five years. Now I’m facing a root canal and who knows what else. Plus the pain and misery of the last couple of weeks has not been good for anyone.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Ugh, root canals are so awful! That’s why it’s so much better to take care of this stuff..even when it’s hard to make yourself (do as I say, not as I do, clearly!)

Shalini January 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I like to think of it this way: would I hesitate to pay for it for the boys? No? Then it’s not actually selfish. Now, if your crowns are made of LEGOS then perhaps we need to have a talk.

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Aww, but Lego crowns would be so COOL (wait, no, no they wouldn’t…they’d be a flossing nightmare!).

And you’re right. I would absolutely do it for my kid, or tell my husband to do it, so I should feel fine doing it for me.

Nicole January 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Jim Rohn says we are of no use for anyone or anything if we aren’t taking proper care of ourselves. My Grandma was the least selfish person I knew and she said sometimes you just have to take care of yourself a bit so you can have something to offer. She was also the happiest person I ever knew too!

Melissa {adventuroo} January 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Not selfish at all! As parents we sometimes don’t do enough for ourselves so good for you!

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm

It’s one of those things that I *KNOW*, and that I’d tell anyone else in my shoes–but I clearly have a problem keeping that in mind! But you’re right, it’s not selfish, it’s just taking care of myself.

Cloud January 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm

How much more would implants be? You’re not being selfish. You’re being fiscally responsible!

Ginger January 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I already have one implant. It was…not cheap. It also took 2.5 years. So the crowns are not only fiscally responsible, they’re saving me a freaking TON of time in the dentists chair, even at 14 hours!

Classic NYer February 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

That’s because it is selfish. And indulgent. And you’re a bad human being. You should let your teeth go to Hell.

See? See how ridiculous it sounds when I say it? Just saying.

Making It Work Mom February 2, 2012 at 3:45 am

I have the same issue! Crappy teeth and unwillingness to spend all that money on myself. It is scary. I have a 2 hour appointment that I am supposed to be makng right now, but have been putting off!

Ugh! It is hard. Good luck.

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