Can all my mom friends relate to this?
Sometimes I feel like “no” is one of the only words in my vocabulary. Obviously that is an exaggeration, but I do grow weary of it. If you’re like me (and great for you if not!), you probably find yourself saying no all the time.
“No, you can’t have candy at breakfast.”
“No, you can’t spend the night at the friend’s house whose parents I’ve never met.”
“No, to more cheese. You’ve had enough today.”
“No! Stop jumping on the back of the furniture.”
“No, you have homework to do.”
Really, it can seem an endless parade of NOs on any given day. And I realize part of parenting is setting boundaries, protecting, ensuring health and balance, training, etc. My husband and I have conversations with the kids about how they don’t realized the sacrifice parents make to facilitate caring for children well, and we try to help them understand everyone has limitations and we don’t always get to do what we want. However, being the No Monster gets pretty old. And recently I have stopped to think about how I find myself sometimes just saying no because I’m worn out or don’t want to deal with the question. Often, “no” is easier than responding properly to the situation. Because…exhaustion. And…I can’t make one more decision today.
So I’m looking actively for more ways to yes to my kids. When something is truly not harmful, won’t break the budget, isn’t creating a bunch of hairy logistics, then my kids need to know I’m not a grinch and am capable of saying yes. Sometimes, I need to look beyond my “tired” or personal preference when there is truly not a good reason to say no, and say yes. After all, there will always be plenty of reasoning and evidence for why we can’t do stuff throughout life. And I’m not about “keeping up with the Jones’s.”
So far this school year, my yes spoke louder than my no when…
Merida and Ariel begged for the second year in a row to do gymnastics, I did some research and found a place close to their school where I could drop them off after school and King James could pick them up on his way home from work. They were going to be doing musical theater with the older sisters anyway this year, so the budget didn’t have to change and those allocated funds just moved over. And even though Ariel is predicted to be six feet tall one day and gymnastics is not really going to be a foreseeable career in my opinion, that’s ok. She is getting exercise, meeting new people, learning to care for her body, and she knows I’m in her corner. Yes.
Belle helped our family a ton recently doing extra babysitting and cooking as we walked through a hectic time with the death and funeral of a friend, so when she asked to spend the weekend at a friend’s house, I said yes. She deserved it. It only required one car trip for a drop off, I didn’t have to plan or organize anything, and even though it would have been nice after that horrible week to just have the whole family together, she needed a break. Yes.
Rapunzel wanted to join the new volleyball team at her school, and even though I initially cringed inwardly at the thought of adding more transportation, extra nights out, and commitments to the schedule, I stopped to review everything and said yes. This is her first year in the school and she’s been trying to form new friendships. She not been one to be all that athletic and it would be good to stretch her. And unlike many other sports, it was only one practice and one game a week (unless game day landed on practice day making it only once that week). Yes.
Merida was invited to a birthday party on a night her dad and I have plans, but her friend’s mom offered to drive her there and bring her home to the waiting sitter. I was reluctant as first to throw a potential wrench into the evening, and it necessitated gift-buying, but Merida has worked very hard in school this year and will enjoy a rare solo activity without all the siblings around. Yes.
I’m also trying to apply this to marriage as well. The issue here may not be necessarily saying no, but life is often so full and harried and I don’t actively focus on or realize the “say yes” opportunities. Like…
Even thought it’s 9pm, the house is finally quiet and my bed is missing me, my partner is missing me more right now, so yes to a bath and conversation together.
An opportunity for a ministry trip arises and he asks me to go. It may disrupt family life, require extra coordinating and help from caregivers, or add to an already busy holiday month full of commitments, but it’s only three days and we’ve had an emotionally and spiritually draining month. It will be good to connect together and disconnect from home for a minute. Yes.
I’m having some cherished quiet time on the porch with a book and coffee, and this time he asks to join. He just wants to be near me. Yes.
In the rush of life, I’m finding the hardest part is slowing down long enough to really see what is happening before me and respond appropriately. Often these choices lead to building relationship capacity or tearing it down (I’ll have to do another post on that). If according to the Bible I am to train up a child in the way they should go, then they need to see me willing to consider requests, facts, and information–to have it modeled that parents are reasonable, loving people and not controlling dictators. I don’t think saying no makes a person the latter, but finding ways to say yes surely goes a long way in teaching about relationships, compromise, respect, honor, and a whole host of Godly attributes that I desire to have and want my kids to have.
Where are some places you can look for more opportunities to say yes? Maybe you have a story or two where you wanted to say no, but chose yes. How did it turn out? Leave a comment!