This last week was my semi-annual window of time to take all my kids (and myself) to the dentist. I am reflecting a bit on what moms (and dads) do to keep up with all the regular checkups, and how fast life seems to fly. How much do we take our smile for granted?

Smile! It really does make everything better.

Growing up, my mom was always the driving force getting all of us to the dentist twice a year, scheduling all of the regular checkups, and doing all the things. She really was a Super Mom – she did all the mom things and kept track of everything, while working 50+ hours a week, being a swimming referee, and on (or leading) several church and school committees.

My dad also had a birthday this weekend. He is 84…twice my age, which means that I am now the same age my dad was when I was born. And he had premature grey hair, so growing up, my dad was asked (a lot) if he was my grandpa. Since my husband has also been asked that question, I know how much that stings a bit when it happens.

What can we do? Smile. Laugh about it. Find the funny.

My dad also has really bad teeth. He always has. And he’s never liked the dentist…but he always did get regular checkups and cleanings. Now that he’s old (I’m not making fun, he is old), he is paying the price of bad teeth, plus being a smoker for 50 years. He is in the middle of the process to get dental implants. Which involves pulling bad teeth, letting gums heal, and has been extended even more due to pandemic shutdowns. But, in the end, he will get there and have a new reason to smile again.

So…I’m a big proponent of regular checkups for all the things, and I have (of course) taken on my mom’s role of getting all those checkups scheduled. Because, as moms, isn’t that what we do?

super mom
I don’t always feel like a Super Mom when I’m bogged down in the day to day. But that’s what we all try to be, right?

Funny story from last week, though. Our youngest had the second appointment of the week, on Thursday. She brushed her teeth really good Wednesday night, swished her mouthwash, and was ready to go. Then, Thursday morning she complained about a headache and upset tummy. We asked her what she was worried about, and she said “the dentist.” We made her go to school…and she puked in class within ½ hour and came home. Puked again, watched a princess movie, took a nap and was perfectly fine. But couldn’t go back to school for two days. Last fall, our little had to get a cavity filled, and Thursday morning she was all worked up about the possibility of a needle.

Brother took her appointment, and all was good. Sister had her appointment on Friday. And when the dentist called and said they had a cancellation Monday morning, I figured “ok, why not”…so, the little had a surprise when I picked her up at school for that. I didn’t tell her this time. I just went and got her. And after the appointment? She wanted to go back again, because it was “fun.” Kids.

Don’t we all do that, a little bit? Whether it is a shot, a test, or something else, none of us like those things. And sometimes we freak out needlessly and then find out it wasn’t that bad. I tend to be a tough love mom. Get the shot, take the test, do the thing.

My kids will be taking standardized tests this week and next. And I have not opted them out. In fact, I’ve opted my 3rd grader IN. He will be taking both Math and English standardized tests this year, just like every other year. Our state has chosen to let odd-numbered grades take one test, and even-numbers take the other, after a year of not normal with the pandemic. I disagree with this. I’d rather know where my kids are at, and whether and what they may have lost in their learning path during this unusual year.

Testing isn’t bad. Shots are not bad. Vaccines save lives. (More on that later). Tests help us to know where our kids are and whether they are learning what they need to learn.

When you make it a big deal, kids freak out more about these things. I do give tough love. I tell my kids to smile through the shots, and take on the tests as one more thing in a day.

From getting a filling, to having teeth pulled – those big needles can be scary. But also necessary. We have to do it, in order to protect our teeth and make them better when we have a cavity.

Taking a test, whether it’s Math or English from third grade to the SATs in high school (which my teenager will also be taking this week), is just part of growing up. We take tests all the time. Basic things in preschool – colors, shapes, numbers, letters. Then basic math, memorization, words, sentences, etc.

As we get older, we still have to take tests, and get shots. Cancer screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, whooping cough, shingles, and whatever new things come along. My husband and I got our first COVID shots last week. We were happy to do it, and we were happy to wait our turn while the older and more vulnerable people around our state had their turn. Our parents are all fully vaccinated, and we feel better having them covered from this virus that has turned all of our worlds upside down for over a year.

Vaccines save lives! Make sure you are up-to-date on what you need!

Being stoic, and following the mantra to “grin and bear it” is something we all do from time to time. I like this one better: smile. Look for the bright side, and find ways to make things fun for your kids. Don’t just grin; smile through the hard stuff. It makes life less scary for our kids.

Life can be hard sometimes. How we tackle the tough things – taking them one thing at a time, and doing them anyway even when we don’t want to – sets an example for our kids. Showing them that we do things even when we don’t want to teaches them how to do it themselves. When my kids whine to me about something, I tell them about one or two other things that I don’t want to do, but do anyway. Because that’s part of life.

Check out Jaime’s post from last Fall – We are the Examples – talking about setting the best example for your kids!

Including going to the dentist, and taking tests. Because we have to make sure our teeth stay healthy. And we have to make sure our bodies and minds are working the way we need them to.

Smile through it all. Life is meant to be lived, and the tough things are part of living. Kind of like taking our vitamins. So that we have strong bones and teeth. And a pretty smile.

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