Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Embracing Braces

Mimi got braces last week and even though she was experiencing physical discomfort, I think I was in more pain emotionally.

When Jack got braces a year ago, I didn't have a problem with it. It was clear his teeth were going to need some intervention and getting braces was the obvious answer. There was a twinge of sadness when I first saw him because he looked different to me but I think the transition went smoother because he immediately accepted them and never complained.

Then along came Sad Sack Sally...she would turn on the water works when braces were even mentioned and say things like "I'm going to look so bad". Of course as a mother, you don't want your child to feel badly about themselves (especially girls)and you want to do anything to ease their sadness so I began to have second thoughts. And honestly, she has a beautiful smile. The overbite she has is endearing now but I kept thinking that someday when she looked like a rabbit in her wedding photo, she would yell at me and say "Why didn't you make me get braces like Jack?!" I couldn't have that weighing on me so reluctantly I made the appointment for her braces.

I had visions of chickening out once we got there. About 5 years ago, Mimi got really sick and the doctor had to give her massive doses of anti-biotics to help fight off her illness. When she called in two nurses to help I knew it wasn't going to be good. When they pulled out two horse size needles and asked me to hold her down with the TWO other nurses, I almost took her and ran. The entire time she screamed "Why are you letting them do this to me?!" If she had said that to me at the dentist, I knew I wouldn't be able to go through with it.

So, I did what every mother in this situation would do...I had Tim take her to the appointment. She and Tim are a great combination...he just takes it stride and placates her. Me? I try to put it in perspective like "You have 90 something more years to live...what 2 years out of all that time? You'll look back and won't even remember this!" Of course, that's not what a kid wants to hear. So, off they went with Tim promising to send me a picture when they were done.

When I got the text, I couldn't look at the picture for about an hour. Finally I did and although it brought tears to my eyes, I was very proud of her color choice for bands...pink and green. That's my preppy girl!

The next day, Tim's cousin Kelly said to Mimi "You look all grown up with your braces." It was in that moment that I realized what my issue really was. It wasn't so much that she would be in pain, or that she was sad about how she would look, or that she thought we were being cruel to her. It was really all about me losing my little girl. .

I guess I expect Jack to grow up. He's my first born...he's blazing the trail for my journey as a parent and all the things we need to go through together. And even though she is just a year and two weeks younger than him, she is still my little girl and watching her grow up is hard because that phase of my life and hers will never be the same. Sure, I knew she was officially a tween and that she was starting on that path to maturity but when your child begins to physically look older, the reality just smacks you in the face.

Soon she won't want to hold my hand anymore, she won't want to snuggle in bed and watch tv with me, and she won't want to do a sleep over when Tim is away...all the little endearing things that you take for granted will feel too babyish to your kids someday. All these things are a normal part of life, I know that. It's just hard when you actually have to face them.

I have two friends whose oldest kids are going off to college in just a few weeks and they are facing a similar experience - albeit a different phase of life...an arguably a lot tougher. Honestly, if I can't handle braces, how will I ever send my kids off to college?! I will be in the fetal position for weeks. Literally.

I know it all works out in the end and each of these experiences makes us as a parent, and our kids, who we all are today. I'm just sayin'...it's not easy.

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