Friday, May 31, 2013

Thirty Days of Yes

Growing up, there was one phrase that my dad would say that made an impression on me more than any other.  It wasn't so much the words that bothered me, but the truth behind them.  Because I said so, and I'm your dad.  Really all those words meant was that he had no valid reason, but because he controlled me, he made the rules.  I wasn't a child who liked to disobey, but I've always been a person who questions and seeks understanding.  His explanation left me feeling cheated, and it certainly didn't fool me.  I knew he didn't have a good reason, often no reason at all.  It was a cop out.  A non-reason.  A meaningless excuse disguised as the ultimate answer to everything.  It still kind of irks me to hear those words.

Yet as a parent myself, I must admit that I have said those same words to my children.  And the truth behind them is the same as it was when I was a teenager.  When I have a good reason for saying no, I give that reason to my kids when they ask the inevitable why.  But on those occasions when I have a less obvious reason or not much of a reason at all, I sometimes find myself resorting to the old stand by, Because I said so.  Each and every time I say those words – which is pretty infrequently still – I think of my dad.  I remember how frustrated it made me, not knowing why I was or wasn't doing something.

Somewhere along the path of parenthood I developed a tendency which I really dislike.  I find myself leaning to no, and often that no is in my head before the request has even finished leaving my children's lips.  I suspect that many parents find themselves in this place.  “No” is a convenient answer, when a “yes” would require me to do something that I don't want to do at that moment.  But “no” is usually met by sad eyes from the little people I love the most.  A while back I read this article about being a Yes Mom, and it resonated with me.  I want my children to look back onto their childhood's and remember a mother who stood firm when it counted, but who said more yeses than no's.  A bright, shining, happy Mom.  A Mom who tried her best to say “yes” whenever she could.  I want to be a Yes Mom for myself too.  For the peace that “yes” carries as its companion.  For the joy that accompanies it.  For the sheer wonderful delight that “yes” brings to my children's eyes.  I want to be a Yes Mom.

Tomorrow is June 1st, and it feels like the perfect time to try something new.  Thoughtful, meaningful, intentional yeses.  Thirty Days of Yes, to be exact.  So what will this mean for my family?  I can tell you what it won't mean.  It won't mean yes to every toy they want to buy.  It won't mean yes to unlimited candy.  It won't mean yes to not eating their veggies.  It won't mean yes to being rude.  It won't mean yes to ignoring chores or family rules.

It will mean yes to a few more minutes of night-time snuggles.  Yes to one more story.  Yes to staying up a few extra minutes.  Yes to game night.  Yes to {another} craft.  Yes to splashing in the puddles.  Yes to leaving the pile of laundry to play a game of tag.  Yes to a second round of Candy Land.  Yes to star-gazing.  Yes to more messy play.  Yes to helping chop the veggies for dinner.  Yes to wearing whatever they choose, regardless of what I think of it.  Yes to expressing themselves.  Yes to growing into themselves.  Yes to happiness.  Yes to less fighting and more freedom.

It might not always be convenient to say yes, but memories don't wait for the most convenient time.  Memories are made now, if we give them the opportunity.

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