If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Bracing for Changes

She blew me away.

My daughter got out of the orthodontist’s chair yesterday, flashed me her first metal-free grin in 18 months. And she blew me away.

Who was this dazzling young woman and what did she do with my little girl?

Looking at the gorgeous final product, you’d never guess what it took to get here.

Canker sores. Bleeding gums. Regular tightening and adjustments. Incessant nagging by her mother to floss and quit chewing gum. Which obviously was quite effective because I think Molly held the all-time record for most broken brackets.

No “Patient of the Month” awards here. “Parent of the Year” honors weren’t exactly pouring in either.

After begging her to brush and floss properly, I was finally reduced to pointing out the scary pictures in the office of kids who didn’t take care of their braces.

Me: Look, Molly! That’s what you’re teeth are going to look like. Take a good long look at those big stains on their teeth. And those don’t come off either! They’ll be there for. the .rest. of. your.life. Is that what you want?! Huh?! Huh?!

Molly: You worry too much. They’re my teeth. If I screw them up, I’ll have to live with it.

Me: Listen, young lady. I’m not paying five thousand bucks for you to look like a hillbilly!

I’d actually have nightmares about her getting them off. How would they look? How could everything possibly turn out okay after all the setbacks and struggles?

Gradually, and I’m not sure exactly how, but it got easier. I quit having to remind her to brush and wear her rubberbands. We had three consecutive visits without breaking something.

And yesterday, the pearly payoff.

I was struck by how our orthodontic struggles paralleled the many other struggles Molly and I have worked through as mother and daughter over the past two years. The transition from my little girl to an independent adolescent haven’t been easy.

Just like with her braces, as a parent, I’ve had to make constant adjustments in my approach and expectations.

At times, changes in me and Molly – growth in our relationship and character -- happened so slowly I’ve felt like we were making no progress at all. Other times, I've felt broken. And putting things back together was sometimes costly and painful.

I’ve had to rely on a Divine Doctor who knows far more that I do about how to straighten things out.

And I’ve wondered – and often still do – about how it will all turn out.

But, slowly, things have gotten easier. Good changes are happening.

And every time I see her flash that beautiful smile, I'll be reminded that if I continue to persevere, the struggle really does pay off.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

I’m thrilled to be the Blog Friend Feature over at Things I Can’t Say today! If you are visiting me from Shell's place, I am so glad you're here!

And if you don't know Shell, please be sure to go over and check out her awesome blog. She is such a genuine, open and caring blogging friend. And she’s been so wonderfully supportive of me on my blogging journey. I’m honored to be featured on her site. You’ll want to be one of her BFFs, too!
Melinda

29 comments:

  1. Gorgeous girl, a younger version of her lovely mama! Have a happy weekend!!! :O)

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  2. Oh the days of braces. I had mine for 2 years. The conversation seemes similar to the one my mom and I had. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful! :)

    I'm visiting from Shell's! Congrats on being her BFF and I will for sure be back!

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  3. Aww, how absolutely gorgeous! I'm glad she can now enjoy her days braces-free. :)

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  4. She is beautiful! My dentist had these awards and prizes that you could earn if you checked out well enough at your exam... I think I won one in the almost three years that I had braces.

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  5. Oh Yay! Molly got her braces off. She looks just beautiful...her teeth look perfect.

    Emily is still wearing her braces, and will until next June. 2 1/2 years total, but who's counting?

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  6. Beautiful daughter! The eternal struggle between mother and daughter...not an easy job.

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  7. Oh look at her beautiful smile! I love how you make this analogy between her teeth and your relationship as Mother and Daughter. Sounds like you two will make your way together just fine...bumps and triumphs and all!

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  8. Aww, she is beautiful! I'm sure both of you are relieved to have the braces days done- I'm afraid my kids are going to be doomed with my teeth and braces are inevitable!

    I'm visiting from Shell, so happy to have found your blog! I'm a follower :)

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  9. What a lovely smile! Congratulations to her in getting rid of her braces! Hard work and patience pays off in the end.

    This post is timely for us. We're going through that "baby" to "big girl" transition and it's not easy. We butt heads all the time because she just doesn't understand why we insist on certain things. Your post applies to so many battles you face with transitions at all ages though and it's encouraging to see someone enjoy the end results of sticking it out through a rough patch.

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  10. She's gorgeous. I love the big difference in people after they get braces off. I don't miss mine AT ALL.

    I'm a new follower, from Shell's blog.

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  11. I found you from Shell's. Congratulations on that gorgeous grin! Your hounding must have paid off. I'm sure she's so happy to be free of those appliances. Do they still call braces an appliance? I always thought that was weird.

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  12. It's nice to meet you. Even though I am jealous about the 18 months. My son had has his for three years and was slated to get them off this summer...if only.....HIs days hadn't been filled with football practice and we haven't been to the ortho in two months and if only...he had worn his rubber bands every time I nagged!!
    If only.

    Have a great weekend.

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  13. She's gorgeous! Congrats on getting the braces off - that was us just a few months ago. But I hate to tell you, I'm pretty sure that *we* hold the record for most broken brackets. We even got the nastygram from the orthodontist's office saying that if she broke any more, we'd have to pay additional for them. ::hangs head in shame::

    Love the blog!

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  14. She is a beauty!

    Thanks for your kind words, my friend! And thank you for being BFF on my blog!

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  15. You are taking me back to when I had braces! I was in 5th grade when I received them and 7th grade when they came off. It was such a relief! Your daughter looks beautiful!

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  16. Congrats on this major milestone... I never had them myself, but the kids' dad should have and find that I'm obsessively watching the placement of their adult teeth as they come in...guess I'll have to let that go... can't do anything to prevent it...

    Stopping by from BFF

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  17. Love this post and the analogies.
    I've been amazed each time mine have had those braces taken off as well. It really does mature them several years, doesn't it?

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  19. I must be losing my mind. At first glance, I thought the photo was the BEFORE pic. I blame it on the fact that her eyes are mesmerizing :)

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  20. Congrats on the BFF article...Nice!

    Your newest follower,

    Anna

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  21. Melinda, she is a doll! You have alot of be proud of! I remember all those frustrating times with braces too. What a relief for all. The "Doc" always does good work!

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  22. Aww Melinda,
    what a beautiful daughter and yup those braces were worth it as you can see "allll" of the other obstacles seem to be too, in the end somehow it does work out... with faith and a few midnight rituals hahaha congrts on being the bff for your friends site i will have to hop ova there too! have a great weekend! :)
    shelley

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  23. Bounced over from Mrs. 444's!

    Ahhh, getting rid of braces and finding your teeth again. Your daughter is beautiful!

    Nice meeting you!

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  24. Just keep lookin' at that smile! She's a doll.

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  25. Lovely Lovely! It's really sickening how much braces cost. I came over from Shell's place.

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  26. I love this post and I love your blog. I am now a new follower and need to come back. Braces: I have had braces 3 times! Yikes... I still remember the feeling when they came off (all 3 times!) and my teeth were so slippery and slimy and oh, so good!

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  27. Amazing beauty!! And I love the comparison between growing up and the braces endeavor. GREAT post!

    My son had braces and will have them again soon. My bank account weeps already...

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  28. I love the Hillbilly comment, haha :)
    She looks GORGEOUS!!!! I had braces and it was SO much fun when I finally got them off.
    By the way, I'm new here. Just love your blog. Now a new follower!

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  29. I loved your BFF post, and I love this one too! your writing makes me keep reading. I love that. Congrats on your feature. Your blog is awesome and the feature is well deserved! :) I've stopped by before, but it's been a while. I'm your newwest follower!

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