We survived the pediatric dentist. My new, improved attitude made a difference in how I felt, but unfortunately did not affect the outcome of William's bravery. He got 2/3 of the way through having his broken front teeth filled, but when the dentist picked up the first real tool, William lost his mind and began thrashing around on the chair so it was unsafe for the dentist to continue. He said, "It's preventative work, the teeth are not decayed, we'll just watch it for awhile and only intervene if he begins complaining of pain. He's simply not ready and needs more time to warm up."
Usually at this point I would be shriveling up inside, feeling shame that my kid refused to perform as I wanted him to, and I would take it out on William through a myriad of loaded comments and heavy sighing. This time, inspired by my mom's group experience, I decided not to cast judgement on my parenting. I did the best that I could to prepare William for the dentist chair. The fact that it all fell apart at the last second was unfortunate, but not my fault. Sometimes we do our best and accept the consequences when they are beyond our control. His fear is not a rational thing and cannot be explained into obedience. He must find his way through it. Maturity will likely help. My berating him will likely have the opposite effect.
On the other hand, Ava was as brave as a lion. The only indication I had that she was terrified was her ice cold hand in mine. She had nitrous oxide gas, then "sleepy juice" (AKA a needle), then her back top right tooth extracted, a process I couldn't bear to watch. It's not easy to watch your child do unpleasant things. I know there will be many of these hurdles to face together, but at the end of the day I can't do them for her. She must work up her own courage to manage her anxieties in these situations. She came through with flying colours, and I was immensely proud of my girl, but we are all fragile, and must remember to extend grace to ourselves and to others in the difficult moments of life.
Last night we had homegroup, a gathering involving pizza, discussion and laughter. It was a good end to a stressful day. One of the things we talked about was capacity, how each of us has an acceptable threshold for stress, and when we go over that level, we must either increase capacity or decrease the outside stressors. We recognized as a group that God has infinite capacity, and coming to him when we reach our limit gives us a way to access more capacity to function at a healthy level. I went to sleep thinking about that last night. It makes sense to me. We are finite, but God is not. We have limits, but a relationship with God offers the possibility of strength and resources much greater than our own. The idea gave me comfort. It's a relief to be able to admit when my capacity has been reached and I don't have any more to give, but it's good to know where I can go to recharge my energy to continue on.