The Songs I Cannot Sing

Age 3 or 4. Children singing beautiful song at church. They sounded like angels to me. I wanted to join them, but the music in my soul just couldn’t. I began to cry. None of the adults understood. I couldn’t explain my hiccuping sobs.

ADHD screws with your dopamine, the hormone that lets you feel joy when the angels sing, that makes you want to sing along with them.*

Three days ago, I thought I had taken my dopamine-permitting medication and then spent the day wondering why I couldn’t access my own life, like I was living just outside of it and watching it happen.

I despised myself and wished my life to someone else. My body, my kids, my husband, house, writing, voice. All of it. Someone else would do a better job with my life. They would enjoy it. They would improve upon it.

Later in the week with my dopamine-permitting medication on board, I thought through that list again and found one thing I think no one would improve on.

My teeth.

I take excellent care of my teeth. I wouldn’t hand them over to just anyone. They are right where they belong.

That’s why I want to tell you what happens when your children become acquainted with a tooth fairy who doesn’t have the heart to swap teeth for money. Oh, the blood money still nestles under the pillow of an increasingly less dentated child, but it cozies up to the currency I just can’t seem to accrue: deciduated teeth.

,[Orthodontists love my kids]

So now when I clean my kids’ closets because at last the cleaning process is fun (dopamine!) instead of pressured (adrenaline-cortisol), I inevitably find these three building blocks among their treasured possessions: a scattering of unrelated beads, unremarkable rocks of unknown origin, and human teeth.

One child even left her latest jetsam on my counter to remind me of the debt I owed her. When one of my blessid pills dropped onto the counter a couple days later, I swept the calcified stowaway into my hand and nearly popped it down the hatch with my other lifesavers.

Sometimes moms feel trapped in a life of servitude with nothing they can claim as truly theirs anymore. Well, I’ve still got my teeth, so for now, my portal to new horizons in life at least won’t involve being an indentured servant. Dentures need not apply. We’re all filled up here.

I’m now considering a foray into jewelry made from what I found in my kids’ closets. Mother’s Day gift, anyone?

–Elissa H. thinks too much and writes too little in the Pacific Northwest. Read more of her thoughts at

*If you missed the post in March where I recounted my moment alone after learning my brain is of the ADHD type, it’s because I went down a rabbit hole over the analogy I was forming and accidentally lost three hours of work when I was about to publish and decided to forget about it until I got on medication and could focus. But the world has gone more mad than ever, and I couldn’t see how my little revelation mattered anymore. Today I wrote because it’s still fun to be me when the “peaceful, happy moments roll.”

2 thoughts on “The Songs I Cannot Sing

  1. When my husband got his wisdom teeth pulled I asked them to thread them on wire so I could make them into earrings to give to my mom. My mom wears them at Halloween, and sometimes when she teaches the kids at church because they think it’s funny. She loves them!

    Side note we had the teeth pulled at a local dental school. I insisted that I wanted to watch and they were amazed that I was not at all squeamish but very excited and interested. When I told them my idea about the earrings they thought that was awesome and some orthodontia students immediately volunteered to help wire the teeth so they would be easier to make into earrings. It’s nice to have one’s brilliant ideas appreciated😂.

    Liked by 1 person

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