Teeth are tricky business for this mom of six. Sure I have a lot of doctor’s appointments and places to take my boys, but I find the dentist to be one of the hardest of those obligations.
This is true for a few reasons.
Where I live, teeth cleanings and teeth check-ups aren’t done in tandem, at the same visit. So this means that you have to schedule an appointment to get your teeth cleaned, AND schedule another appointment on another day and time to see the dentist for a check-up and x-rays.
Well, when you’ve got 6 kids and you want to keep your own teeth healthy as well, that’s 14 appointments to balance in the course of the year. And while I’m very grateful that dental care is subsidized and covered in our health basket, the closest dental clinic is a 20-25 minute drive away. Talk about scheduling nightmares.
So far, I’ve managed to swing it and to book all of those cleanings and check-ups (and the occasional cavity and root canal) without losing my mind.
But recently, I felt like throwing in the towel. I would make an appointment for my 16 year old three months in advance, only to be told when the day arrives that he has work/test/basketball practice/a major event on the day of his appointment. And we will start the process all over again.
I figured the summer would make things easier, since he’s back at home and has more time. But he’s working like crazy, and just asked me to cancel the 8am appointment I made this week.
Can’t say no to a kid hard at work.
And as I was saying to my husband that our son’s teeth were simply going to rot in his mouth for every-after, my husband said something that shouldn’t have been earth-shattering, but that was for me.
“Why don’t we just give up on this dental plan for just this child and go to the private dentist in our town?”
And the world stopped.
In retrospect I have to giggle, because I’m so rigid and planned in the things that I do that I just assume I have to keep doing them. We have subsidized dental care and it’s great so gosh-darn-it, I have to find a way to make it work in every situation and for every kid even if I’m ready to lose my mind.
But what if we just say: You know what? This isn’t working. So let’s find another way to do things.
Yes, it will cost more money for our 16 year old to see the dentist in the community where we live. But the task will actually get done. We’ll have a kid with healthy teeth and a mother who can keep her sanity (at least in this situation).
And all of a sudden when my husband suggested this solution, the tension vanished. Poof.
Just like that.
Obviously we all have goals in our lives as parents; we all have plans and objectives and things we need to accomplish. But it’s really important not to lose sight of our sanity in the process of checking off these goals. And sometimes, if the square peg just simply isn’t going to fit into the round hole no matter how much you push and prod and jam it with those twenty extra pounds of Umph! that you’re always trying to lose…it’s time to lose the round hole instead. It’s time to make a detour that will save your sanity.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
Sometimes parenting and time management are really hard and complicated and sticky.
And sometimes we just make them so.
Lessons learned for this harried mom on the path towards clean teeth.
This article was first published on Kveller.