By Jennifer Davis Rash
Two of my nieces had their first painful dental experiences recently — they both had a tooth pulled prior to entering the orthodontics world.
It was about a week prior to their tooth-pulling appointments when they shared with me how scared they were and how they didn’t know what to expect. Of course, being the amazing aunt that I am, I knew my role was to help calm their fears. I started by sharing personal experiences and being honest that it wasn’t always a pleasant experience but that it was bearable.
I offered suggestions to help with the anxiety such as listening to their iPods while the dental work was going on so the sounds of the drills and equipment wouldn’t be so intimidating.
I also explained that I always close my eyes as soon as the dentist starts to work so I don’t see the various instruments, especially the shot.
“The shot?” my nieces — in complete unison — asked with rapidly increasing high-pitched shrills. “No one told us we had to get a shot!”
Oops, guess Aunt Jen Jen went a little too far in her explanation. I don’t think they heard another word I said after that, and I’m sure their parents were thrilled with my assistance in the matter.
I wonder if I reacted in a similar way when my mom shared the “close your eyes” trick with me more than 35 years ago. It’s funny how clearly I remember sitting in the dentist’s waiting room at 5 or 6 years old, shaking from fear. I don’t recall what I said, but I do remember vividly the calming voice of my mom comforting me and assuring me everything would be OK.
I took her advice that day and she was right. It worked, and it still works all these years later. The minute the dental chair is fully reclined and the process begins, I close my eyes and spend the time praying, thinking, planning, listening to music — anything but engaging in the activity swirling around me.
A simple act, yes, but one of countless tips and efforts of encouragement my mom has shared with me through the years — a lot of little things that have added up to make life better overall.
When I decided to focus this column on Mother’s Day, I assumed I would select a turning point in my life in which my mom made a major impact and share those reflections. And while there are those highlight moments, I discovered the larger impact for me has been the consistency of my mom’s presence, encouragement, strength and love.
She has an incredible intuition and sense of knowing what to do and where to be. She gives and gives and gives in so many ways and most of the time she manages to do it without a lot of fanfare.
I’ve not yet learned how to silently and seamlessly slip in, do what needs to be done and slip out. I’m still much too loud, but I love watching my mom do her thing. And I always smile when she manages to slip something over on me.
Her quiet demeanor and sweet nature could fool those who don’t know her, but my mom’s strength is solid. She is secure in her faith and follows the two greatest commandments — love Jesus and love others — wholeheartedly.
Her love for family extends beyond our immediate members. It reaches far and wide, even beyond bloodlines. I would venture to say there’s not a sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew who wouldn’t agree.
Thank you, Mom, for consistently sharing tips to help me through life, and thank you for modeling a quiet, solid strength of faith, hope and love.