Empathy: BRACES what?

empathy

On Monday I took the plunge and joined the world of most tweens in this country–Braces.  Well, to be completely accurate, I am now sporting a stellar pair of Invisalign.

I’ve had this love/hate relationship with my teeth for a while now.  Until I hit my mid-30s, my teeth were straight.  People assumed I had braces when I was young.  I was lucky considering braces would NOT have been an option for this African bred girl.

Then like magic, I hit 36 and everything began to fall apart, including my teeth.  Root canals, crowns, fillings–you name it, my mouth became a mess.  For a religious every 6 month to the dentist girl, I was beyond frustrated.  What in the world?!  I thought preventative treatment was just that–preventative.

Here I am, 40 and in braces.  I’ve made a few empathic observations this week.

Observation 1:  Anything on your teeth for extended periods of time hurt.  Plain and simple.  PAIN.  Tylenol becomes your best friend until you make observation two.

Observation 2:   Tylenol creates all kinds of stomach havoc when you can’t eat because of the braces.  Meds and a empty stomach are NOT a great combination.

Observation 3:  Actual braces would have been better than Invisalign.  They are not invisible, despite your best efforts to hide them.  Any time you eat, you have to take them out.  Insert salvia and multiple efforts of tugging and pulling to get them off your teeth.

Observation 4:  Food tastes terrible.  There is a layer of putty all over your teeth, created to help keep the trays on your teeth.  However, this putty does not wear away despite strong assurances from the orthodontist that it will.

Observation 5:  My sweet children who’ve already undergone braces have deep empathy for me.  When I show them mouth sores from rubber band plugs, they get it.  In turn, I have empathy for them. I now get it!

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I am committed to this teeth straightening journey.  It’s a humble reminder to me that I can’t control everything in my life.

Yes, I picked my pain so this is not a self pity post. Rather, it’s realizing once again the old adage–you have to walk in someone’s shoes to truly understand what they are going through.

I will be sprinting to the store to get Tobin ice cream and mouth numbing cream come braces #2 time.  I’m walking in those shoes and boy does that sound good right about now!

A chunk of glass

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When we were in Hawaii, we visited glass beach.  Millions of tiny specks of glass, beaten against rocks, smooth and shined by water — turned into magical bits of glory.  Those pieces of glass didn’t begin that way.  They started as rough chunks of glass that could cut deep.  In order to be this handful of beauty, they had to bear the force of nature.  It was a long process to get to beauty.

These past seven years of working outside the home have been filled with a lot of weathering and wearing.

One of the things I’ve realized, as I step into this new chapter, is how much of ME I’ve put aside these past 7 years–particularly in the past 2 years.

To the outsider, it has appeared that I’ve juggled all the balls in the air pretty well.  I still make it to the gym most days, my kids eat healthy, I bake cookies on the weekend.  I have shown up to all the appointments and even managed to maintain my own routine without missing deadlines.  To the onlooker, particularly if they are watching me through FaceBook, working and mothering seem to be going just great!

Social media allows us to paint a pretty face and keep it polished.

Step a bit deeper into my space and a new look begins to appear.  Writing and reading have been pushed aside for more than a year.  I used to go through two or three journals a year–I’m still trudging through one marked 2013.  Blog posts decreased and content.  I honestly couldn’t figure out what to write about.

I’ve invested so much into my job, my outside work, that I’ve arrived home with precious little to give those I say matter most.  Rather than looking at the beauty in my immediate space, I just more work.  More “to do’s” more “have to’s.”

I feel like I’m coming out of a fog.  As the haze lifts, I’m seeing things clearly.  I’m realizing all the things I put on hold because I thought I had to.  In this fog lifting moment,  it’s hard to not start beating myself up.  Guilt is one of the biggest enemies banging down my doorstep right now.

What if I had quit my job sooner?  How could I have better managed job stresses with home life?  If only I had just left it at the office, would I have more patience now?

I remind myself it’s not too late.  It is never too late to start over; to begin new.  It’s not too late to say I’m sorry.  It’s certainly not too late to pick up traditions, focused time and goal setting.

IMG_1918However, I wouldn’t be here, understanding the tug and pull of work and home if I hadn’t walked that road.  I’d like to think that I’m shining a bit more lately because of what I’ve experienced these past seven years.

 

The magic of beginnings

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It’s magical – A new beginning, a chapter turned, a new blog.  

For the past seven years, I’ve been a working mom.  Juggling three kids and a spouse’s work schedule alongside mine has been a true growing experience. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done in life.  Some days I’ve done it really well. Other days I’ve gotten an F.

Over the past few months we’ve realized that I need to step back and move to a new journey – stay at home.

I’ve been here before. I’ve done the stay at home thing. I’ve done it well– really well. And just like with working, I’ve earned some pretty stellar A+’s as well as a few big fat F’s.

Idealistically I have a lot of great thoughts of what that looks like to be home again.  I also know the things I’m giving up to do this will create some pain.

Just as Full Circle was started as an online journal to share our adoption journey, this blog is my online journey to share the lessons learned from working and the new road ahead.

Thanks for coming alongside me as I start something new.