It didn’t hit me until I heard my three-year-old tell her younger brother (in a very impatient tone), “No, I just don’t have time for that right now!”
I had become a “No-Mom.”
1. A mother who consistently answers “No” to most requests her children make, with or without actually hearing them.
When asked if they could get out the legos, John’s mom answered, “No, that’s too messy right now.
1. mean mom, cranky mom, no fun, stick-in-the-mud mamma
I didn’t want to be a no-mom! To remedy this, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to become more of a “yes-mom.” This is definitely not like the Jim Carey movie where I would need to say yes to everything, but rather to say “yes” to harmless, fun activities to which my first response is usually “no.” There have been so many times my kids have asked me to do a puzzle with them, or to get out the finger paints, and I’ve said something along the lines of, “Oh, that would be fun…maybe later, when I finish cleaning the kitchen.” It never gets done. How sad!
The reason I chose to quit work and stay at home with my kids was so I could watch them grow–give them a beautiful childhood full of fun, laughter and imagination. Something in the house will always need cleaned, but my children will not always want me to do puzzles with them, or to hold them just because. They will grow up and do those things on their own. They won’t want my help, and holding them will not be so cool. Now is my time to just be with them.
So I started the “Yes-Mom” experiment. I designated Friday as my “Yes-Mom” day because my agenda was wide open, and the house was basically clean. I didn’t tell my kids about the experiment, but resolved to say yes to all reasonable requests (asking for five baggies of fruit snacks was not considered a reasonable request). I just let them guide the day by doing things they wanted to do. It was actually humorous and tons of fun!
Here’s how our first “Yes-Mom” day went:
Immediately upon waking up, they asked to put costumes on. Normally, I would decline, explaining that we had to go run some errands and you don’t wear costumes at the store. But today was a “Yes-Mom” day. The surprised smiles on their faces when I said yes brightened my heart!
Minnie and Mickey Mouse Pancakes
Pancakes are usually a weekend breakfast, yet my kiddos would love them every day, especially character pancakes. Normally I refuse because cereal is so much faster and easier, but luckily, today was a “Yes-Mom” day. So when they begged for pancakes, I was pleased to oblige. And of course they wanted to “help” by pulling up chairs and flipping the pancakes. We made Mickey, Minnie, and a much less successful mermaid and Buzz Lightyear.
Stacks and stacks of stories
Usually, when one of my little ones comes up to me with a stack of books nearly bigger than they are, I say, “Just pick one and I’ll read it.”
But today, I had all the time in the world to read stories. And you know what, because I had that mindset, it was so much more fun reading book after book, talking and laughing about each one. That is precious time I would have missed had I been mopping the floor.
Butcher paper drawing
After changing outfits for the third time that morning (something I still struggled having patience with), they both wanted to draw. So I got out some computer paper and the colored pencils. “No!” my daughter exclaimed, “On the BIG paper!”
So instead of grumbling, “Just use the small paper,” I rolled out the butcher paper. After seeing their creativity, I berated myself for normally denying them of this. And when my daughter wanted me to draw Rapunzel, and then criticized my attempt (“Mom, you drew her lips too big. And her dress needs to be all pink!”) I held in the retort: “Then you do it!” and just tried again. It felt good being a “Yes-Mom.”
Playing in the snow
Ahh, the snow. Love it and hate it. I love its beautiful, crisp look, but hate being cold. Usually when my kids beg to go outside and play in the snow, I make excuses like, “Not now, I need to take a shower.” Besides, it takes 20 minutes to get everyone dressed and then after five minutes of playing, they’re done. What a stick in the mud mom I’d become!
How can I forget the incredible fun it is to play in the snow as a child? So in the spirit of the “Yes-Mom,” I bundled everyone up, myself included and we made snow angels, a teensie snow man named Gus, and even ate some snow. Seeing the magical joy of snow through my children’s eyes made me wonder why I usually said no in the first place.
I love play dough as a “keep ‘em busy” activity while I make dinner or do some other chore. I rarely join in on the fun. But of course today was a hands-on day so I dug in. Let me tell you, this is a great way to observe your child’s imagination. It is amazing to see little minds at work.
Watching their little hands busy creating burritos and artistic blobs, I teared up, realizing that for this moment, right now, they were my little ones. Little sweeties who actually wanted, begged to be with me. I was their best friend.
These little chubby hands will grow.
But in this moment, they are mine.
Childhood is so precious. Too precious to miss while cleaning, organizing, or cooking.
By no means was my “Yes-Mom” day a perfect mom day. I still lost my temper and still put my foot down when so-and-so wouldn’t share a toy. But I felt like I was able to freeze time for a moment. To really savor the simplicity and innocence of my kids at the stages they are in. I held them longer and listened to them closer.
Not only do I look forward to my “Yes-Mom” Fridays, but I find myself daily trying to pay more attention to my little ones. If you’ve been feeling a bit like a “”No-Mom” lately, try designating one day a week to be a “Yes-Mom.” See the difference it makes.