I have a confession to make: I don’t like going to the dentist.
I know, I know, no one likes going to the dentist. But I really don’t like it. I avoid it at all costs. I think about it often. I know that the more I put it off, the worse it will be. Thinking about how bad it might be causes my heart to race. So I take a few deep breaths and think about sunsets on the ocean, because that keeps the intrusive thoughts away.
And then I continue to put my head in the sand and avoid the dentist.
But you can only avoid the dentist for so long. You have to take care of yourself. You have to show your children that taking care of your body is important. You have to prioritize you sometimes.
So, the other day, I went to the dentist.
I was convinced that she would tell me that I needed 20 root canals and 5 caps. Minimum. That’s how long it had been. I was prepared to shout, “Sedate me, please!”
But, I had to do it. So I put on my brave face and entered the office with as much calm as I could possibly muster.
And you know what? It wasn’t so bad.
I sat back on a very comfortable recliner and watched the news. Sure, there were x-rays, there was poking, and my lips were stretched farther than I ever thought possible. But it was actually (dare I say it?) kind of relaxing.
I stopped worrying about my prognosis the minute I entered the office. For better or for worse, I was there. All I could do was wait and see.
And for the first time in a long time, I prioritized my own health. There’s something soul soothing about that, even if prioritizing me means sharp objects in my mouth.
And? The prognosis was good. No root canals. No caps. No big deal.
I walked out of there with a fresh clean smile and some pep in my step. Who knew that a dental visit would provide such a boost to my self-esteem? Not me, that’s for sure.
But the more I thought about it, the more that it made perfect sense.
As moms, we talk about finding that coveted me time. We need time alone. We need to recharge. We need a break once in a while.
And I’m pretty good about factoring in me time. I exercise daily. I get a manicure each week. I sit back with a mug of tea and a magazine at night. I hug my husband often. I find the small moments that recharge my soul.
But I fall very short when it comes to my health. I only visit the doctor if I’m really, really, really sick. I rely heavily on Web MD, despite my physician’s frequent warnings against this sort of thing.
And, until the other day, I avoided the dentist like the plague.
As of this week, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m prioritizing my own health. I’m making appointments and following through.
It’s not enough to simply steal a moment of calm here and there throughout the week. We need to make sure that we are making healthy choices, getting physicals, and overcoming dental fears. We need to model a healthy lifestyle for our children, for sure.
But it’s so much more than that. To be the best parents that we can be, we need to be healthy and present. We need to take care of us.
Me first in 2013. Ok, maybe not totally me first…that might be a little selfish and probably completely unrealistic.
But a little bit me first in 2013.
Are you with me?