Somewhere along my short road of motherhood, I made a commitment to myself to say “yes” to my kids as often as possible. I want them to hear more from my mouth than “no.” I think this realization happened during Charlie’s early toddlerhood, when I felt like all of my energy was being used to discourage him, yet again, from putting his little fingers where they didn’t belong. I thought, “In response to the actions I don’t approve of, how can I encourage positive behavior, rather than simply (and annoyingly . . . and naggingly . . .) discourage negative behavior?
I found a satisfactory answer in the little, mundane activities Charlie showed interest in. Instead of saying, “No, Charlie, you may not touch Daddy’s books” (he heard that plenty), I would try instead to say, “Charlie, let’s read a book! How about Goodnight Moon?” Or instead of reprimanding his urge to push the buttons on the DVD player, I could say, “Charlie, how about we push the buttons on this toy truck?”
Things like that.
This carried over into his more recent stages, when he would ask to do things that I didn’t really feel like doing, probably for no other reason than that I had “better” things to do. “Mommy, let’s play on the grass.” “Mommy, let’s play golf.” “Mommy, I want to play Play-Doh.” I tried to remember my commitment to say “yes.”
But sometimes — oftentimes — I forget.
And I catch myself getting so SICK of hearing “no” come out of my own mouth. I get exasperated saying “no” to the same things over and over, day after day, with various reasons or excuses tagged onto the end.
Then tonight I came across this blog post, by a friend of mine from college. She reminded me that we make memories with our children in the messiness and the craziness of saying an unselfish “YES!”
A few quotes:
I am a “NO” mom. No is my default. No, because it is too messy. No, because I don’t have time. No, because I just don’t feel like it. No, because I really don’t know how to draw that. No, because it is just not worth my time or energy. No, because it is out of my comfort zone. No, no, no.
The answer is YES. I want my default to change to YES this year. Yes to the mess. Yes to the inconvenience. Yes to the time “wasting.” Yes, to my DAUGHTER. Yes, to fun. Yes, to memories. Yes, to chaos. Yes, to joy. Yes, yes, yes.
If I am honest with myself and God, I spend WAY more time focused on avoiding messes, eliminating chaos, making life easier for ME, than I spend asking myself “how can I be a blessing to my children? how can I say YES to my daughter today in a way that would strengthen our heart connection and make lasting memories? how can I DIE to myself today?”
Chelsea linked to this blog, a beautiful telling of this same commitment.
So now, after I click “Publish” with misty eyes, I am going to walk into my kids’ bedrooms, stare at them for just a minute as they sleep, and pray that they will forget, or at least forgive, the minutes and hours I have selfishly claimed for myself, shushing No after No as I thought it more important to focus on my own needs first.
And I will thank God that tomorrow is a new day; a day of new mercies; a day of saying “yes” to those two little blond-haired blessings he has placed in my care.