Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"My default answer to everything is no. As soon as I hear the inflection of inquiry, the word no forms in my mind, sometimes accompanied by a reason, often not. Can I open the mail? No. Can I wear your necklace? No. When is dinner? No. What you probably wouldn't believe is how much I wanted to say yes." -Kelly Corrigan, LIFT

My days are filled with my children's questions and my answers. I field many, many, many inquires every hour:

"Can Buzz Lightyear fly?"
"Can I fly?"
"What's for dinner?"
"Can we have a sleep over?"
"Will you buy me high heeled shoes?"
"Can we have dessert?"
"Will you push me?"
"Can we have a snack?"
"Will you give me a manicure? With little flowers on each nail like the babysitter does?"
"Will you come now?"

Before kids, I fancied myself a patient, positive person. After nearly seven years at this parenting gig, I realize that I am not the patient, positive person I previously thought. (Granted, before I delivered my children into this world, I hadn't experienced the tyrannical nature of children's constant, continual spray of questions, firing like rounds from a machine gun. (A little too harsh, perhaps? Sorry...'twas a long, questioning morning at the MusingsdeMommy home.)

After a question is sent my way, my tongue perches at the roof of my mouth, readying to produce the "N" sound, preparing to say NOOOOOO. And to try to hide my penchant for No-saying, I've devised ways to say No without actually saying No.

"Let me think about it."
"I'll see how the evening goes."
"If you eat healthfully..."
"You guys go out first and I'll meet you there."
"I'll be right there..."


It's so heavy, brooding and dark. Necessary, at times, but not at ALL times. Yes, on the other hand, reverberates; so lively, powerful and affirming. Punctuated with possibilities, ruminating with promises.

When I started reflecting on this, my stomach sank in misery. Why am I so quick to jump to No? What am I, on a subconscious current, teaching my children about life? Are their questions truly that outlandish? My children actually lob their questions and then I hear them quietly pleading, with me, the winds and the universe, "please say yes please say yes oh please say yes". Am I that transparent?


Today, I'm putting my negative responses on notice. I'm bringing back Yes. In an effort to be more adaptable and accommodating, positive and affirming...to both my children and myself, I'm replacing my old, tired, reflexive No and finding simple, inspired reasons to embrace Yes.

Yes, you can.
Yes, we can.
Yes, I will.


alita said...

Oh I can just see it lit up in their eyes "oh please, oh please say yes, please, oh please say yes"

Your words hold so true.

I read this post. Then I read the previous one, and the one before that, and then the one before that last one. And I have to say...

Can I follow you? I love your writing style. Your voice. Your honesty.

Thank you for sharing!

Rudri said...

Sometimes i even say no before I hear the question. I will be conducting an experiment and actually try to grant some of her wants and wishes (within reason).

MaFerron said...

Damn woman! You have done it again and on day I felt I was being hounded with questions and needs from both children. Reading this was better than the glass of wine I crave after a day like today. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

That excerpt from Lift is one of my favourites too. Actually 'yes' is a parenting strategy I've used since the beginning. It works for me, it often takes the allure right out of the very things they actually want. With little ones, no is often related to keeping them safe and not letting them touch things they shouldn't for example. I discovered early on, if I just say yes more they get over it and move on quickly. We'll see how my strategy develops as they get older.

You must head over to Bad Mommy Moments and read her post on this very subject from yesterday: http://badmommymoments.com/2010/05/17/project-yes/

CaneWife said...

Love it. Love. It.

And what a great reminder to be more positive.

Lauren @ Embrace The Detour said...

I am bringing back the yes.

I love this.

My post on yes was about the big yeses. I haven't even begun to tackle the small nos. granted, I am only 4 months into my mommy gig, but already I feel myself thinking it and, even though she doesn't even know what it means, saying it to my daughter. I don't want to be a no person. I want to be a yes person. I want to be a giver of yeses. I want to be able to find a yes even when the overall answer is no. To find a yes amidst the no.

Great stuff.

Stacia said...

"We'll see how it goes." That's my "No" answer in disguise. I love the idea of putting our "No's" on notice. Thanks for the reminder to do that instead of getting bogged down in all the questions.

Aging Mommy said...

I was at lunch today with a fellow Mom friend and our children and we talked about this, the fact that we spend all day (or so it seems) saying no, and about how much we hate the word no.

So tomorrow, I have decided we will ban the word no in our house. I might not say yes to everything but I will find some way of not saying NO!

Great post - can I follow you too?!?

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Denise, thank you for another beautifully written post (and one kicked off by the words of Kelly Corrigan; what could be better?).

Like you and Kelly and so many of our blogging compatriots, I often find myself defaulting to No with my kids. What I want to try, though, is to stop and think for a moment before saying No or Yes so that my follow-through can be more authentic. I suspect that my caving after saying No isn't doing a whole lot for my overall discipline strategy with my kids.

Gibby said...

I thought I was a patient person, too! And then I had kids. And my kids hang around other kids, and I find I'm even more impatient with them, too! I have been trying to say yes more, sometimes it works, sometimes, well...not so much!

Stefanie said...

I honestly find myself not even listening to their questions and then realizing that I was just asked a question will, without stopping what I am doing, say NO. I have NO IDEA what they have asked. I seriously need to Change. My. Attitude. Thanks for the reminder.

disclaimer: They are teens, so don't judge me too harshly.

Theta Mom said...

We all need to be a little more postive sometimes - thanks for this.

ck said...

It's so hard to say yes sometimes, though. It really is. Sometimes I think "No" is being lazy, and other times I think it's more of a defense mechanism. But I love how you said that you're putting negativity on notice. I'm trying to do that too. Some days are better than others, but the days that are good? So worth it!

Jen said...

Oh, Denise. We all were living under a blanket, weren't we? Thinking ourselves patient before we had children. I was about to stop reading posts for the night and say yes to my head on the pillow, but I'm glad I read this one more. We are kindred spirits, I think. Yes.

anymommy said...

I know this feeling so well. Sometimes, I feel like I'm just here to knock them down and make fun things not fun, but worthy of consequences. It's so hard, I want to be able to live with them (and have my house continue to exist), but I want them to hear yes more often too.