Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Say What???

Had a little episode this past weekend with Joshua. See, Joshua wanted me to take him fishing and I didn't want to. But God changed my heart when I thought of a resolution I'd made to myself previously.
I wrote an article about this idea a while ago, and decided to post it here today. Hoping it will encourage all my mommy friends. (And anyone else who is prone to saying NO too quickly!)

Say What???

"Mom, can I have a snack?"
"No. It's almost dinner time."

"Mom, will you take me to the playground?"
"No. I'm folding laundry right now."

"Mom, can I get a new Barbie?"
"No. You don't need any more dolls."

"Mom, will you put my toys away?"
"No. That's your job."

"Mom, can I go to bed early tonight?"
"No. Er, what?"

Do you find yourself saying, "No," more than you say anything else? When your child approaches you with an inquisitive look on her face, (or angelic, if she's trying to manipulate you) do you already feel your lips puckering up for the big N-O? Do your kids think you don't even know the word "YES" exists?

If you answered "Yes" to these questions, well, that was a new experience, wasn't it?! Seriously, if you answered "Yes" to these questions, you're probably a lot like me. My kids pepper me with questions all day long and, in all fairness, many of their questions should legitimately be answered, "No." But there came a time when I realized I was saying, "No," to everything.
If a question was asked, the answer was, "No." I wasn't even thinking anymore. My answer was as reflexive as my knee when the doctor taps it.

It bothered me greatly when I realized I was saying, "No," so much. I felt incredibly negative, and I wondered if my kids were picking up on it. But what could I do about it? I certainly wasn't going to allow my children to have snacks five minutes before dinner, to watch three movies a day, or to stay up late whenever they wanted, just so I could avoid saying, "No." It seemed just as unlikely they would stop asking me the questions which required a "No" answer.

What was I to do?

The answer came to me one day, in the middle of a barrage of questions. My daughter called out, "Mom?" Instead of answering, "What?" as I usually did, I said, "Yes?" Then my son wanted something and he called, "Mom?" I replied, "Yes?" Moments later, son number two needed me and said, "Mom?" I came back with, "Yes?" All of a sudden it hit me. My kids call out "Mom?" so often that if I always answer back with, "Yes?" it will sound like I'm saying "yes" all day!
Saying, "Yes," may not be so difficult after all.
Yes, I think I can do this!
I'd like to say this little discovery was all it took to end the frustrations and difficulties I encounter each day. But that would be a lie.
I'd also like to say this little discovery was all it took to solve my saying "No" problem. But that would be shallow.
What really happened is this little discovery led me to start saying, "Yes," to more than just, "Mom?"
As time went on and I was allowing that word to pass from my lips a little more often, sometimes it slipped out when my daughter asked, "Mom, will you sing me another song?" Occasionally it found its way out when she asked, "Mom, can I have a piece of your gum?" Once it managed to get out when my son asked, "Mom, will you take me fishing?" ("No" found its way back quickly when the same son asked if I wanted to put the worm on the hook!)
My kids seemed surprised when I started saying, "yes," more often to them. They also seemed to be smiling a little more frequently. I noticed a definite skip in Joshua's step when we were walking to the fishing dock. This "yes" thing was making a positive difference for all of us.
I am still unwilling to give my children everything they desire. We need to have limits and boundaries. I am the adult here, and will do my best to maintain order and a sense of moderation. Being the adult, however, I realize I am also the one to be an example for my children.
I have found that saying, "Yes," also affords me the opportunity to be a model for them.
My kids are pretty good at being selfish. They don't need me to model that trait for them. I realized, however, modeling that trait is exactly what I do most of the time I say, "No," to them.
No, we can't go sledding because, honestly, it's cold outside and I don't want to be cold.
No, you can't spend your birthday money today because that would require me to change my plans and take you to the store, and I don't want to change my plans.
No, you can't play a game on the computer because I want to check my e-mail now.

Selfishness isn't very attractive when it's laid out so plainly, is it?

Having come to this understanding about the impact of that one little word, this is the decision I have reached regarding all future questions these children will pose to me: If the object of their question will not bring them harm, if it is not an unreasonable request, and if I cannot think of an unselfish reason to say, "No," my answer will definitely be, "Yes!"
How about you?



luvmy4sons said...

You have such an awesome, tender- loving, sweet, mother's heart that inspires us all! And if you are saying..."Say what?" to that; the reply is: YES!

Irritable Mother said...

Leslie - Awww. Thanks.
It's because my awesome, tender-loving, sweet Jesus lives there. And He's making my heart a little more home-y.

God's girl said...

Aw...I love this! I am a mom who says no too often as well:) It is great to have something that will bring "yes" back into our lives:)

Thanks! Heaven

Amanda said...

Awesome way to look at this... I am too saying No all day long, and I dont want to!!

I am going to try this!

Be blessed-

Patricia/NYC said...

I too am guilty of lots of "no"...today was the first day of summer vacation for Kiara & I decided to let that little "Y" word slip out more frequently & guess what?!? It has been such a wonderful day so far!! I'm sticking to my "real" limits & boundaries, but why not say "yes" to "Mom? Can I ride my scooter all the way to (fill in the blank)" or
"Mom? Can we please have croissants for breakfast since it's my very first vacation morning?"

Honest to goodness, it's been a blast today! Now we're off to the sprinkler park! :)

(Disclaimer: I have explained to Kiara there will be some days when we have to do some other stuff, like chores! lol, but today, is our day of fun!)

Thanks for this reminder, Karen!!

Irritable Mother said...

Heaven - Hoping the 'yes' will find a good place in your lives. *grin*

Amanda - It may seem silly, but it really did make a difference to me (and to my kids!) when I started saying 'Yes' more often. I hope it benefits you, too.

Patricia - Glad you've been having fun saying Yes today. *grin*
But it IS necessary to say Yes to chores now and then, too. It's that balancing act. *wink*

gianna said...

Last week, Amanda and I hung out at a park together with our kids and realized that we had been saying no for the first 25 minutes of us playing together. In our defense, it was to protect the kids from sliding off the slippery, wet playground equipment.
But still. It's time to stop being lazy and get my bum up and maybe say yes. (getting the bum up and saying yes do totally correlate!)

Irritable Mother said...

Gianna - We have nice parks in MI. When are you and Amanda going to come hang out with me??? *grin*
See, there are times when NO is necessary - like around the slippery equipment. But I'm trying to say YES when NO is only an excuse. *wink*

gianna said...

Do you know what? You totally made the Amanda and me hanging out thing happen! One day we will come to MI! I can't promise when, but we will!

Irritable Mother said...

Gianna - I'm looking forward to that day!