Word of the Day today is: YES
Though I made my mother swear to keep me from falling in love and marrying until I was at least 26 and had my PHD in Psychology (yeah, I once thought such a thing was possible), I was a young bride. Nineteen years old, to be exact. At twenty-six I was pregnant with my fourth child. A young bride, and a young mother of a chunk of kids. Goodness, I am amazed any of us survived me! So many mistakes. Oh my, it turns my stomach to think of it! I was just barely learning to deal with myself when I became responsible for so many powerful young souls. In an attempt to follow the guidance of the mother I admired the most, I tried to keep the reigns tight like my mother had. At least it seemed so in my own mind...that my mom kept tight reigns on her kids. But we're all fairly independent souls, so I'm not sure where that notion came from, except that as a kids we knew exactly...I repeat...e-x-a-c-t-l-y what to expect when we disobeyed our mother! I thought a mother-in-control was a mother who said "No" as a matter of course. "Yes" was a word to be used for only the most perfect occasions. So the day my friend Sally Jo gave me a book by her other friend Jeroldeen Edwards was pivotal for me. One of the essays in her book, which was about the joys and sorrows of parenting something like thirteen children, alluded to her belief that as parents we should try to create within ourselves an instinctive response of YES to our children's desires. YES should prevail until reason supplies evidence in support of NO.
"Yes, Love, we should go out and jump in the rain," or "Yes, I do think we should read another book." I had not considered that these might be appropriate answers. It was rather liberating for me, though I do not profess to have always followed this theory in my parenting. But I know it helped at some level, to have given myself permission to think outside the box of order and control.
Tonight we waved goodbye to my sisters and other family members as they returned to CA. It got late. Sarah and Dave, who are staying with us this month while she works at Tanner Medical Clinic, walked down the street from Gram and Libby's at 11:00. Two year old Anna Bella and five year old Timothy got into their PJ's and brushed their teeth. "OK, time for bed now!" Sarah whispered. Timo started to sob..."But you promised we would have our family movie night!" Tears from both little sets of eyes, and really sad, really tired moans, and Mommy looked at Daddy. Soon enough they were all snuggled into pillows on the TV room floor with a 1/2 hour Disney show.
The rest of the "normal", "scheduled" world may criticize. Snuggling on the floor at midnight when work begins at 8 am might not work for them, and that's OK. But for this little family, whose mommy spends nearly 100 hours a week driving to and from the hospital where she pulls 16 hour shifts in an attempt to fulfill a very big family dream, it is the right thing. I celebrate their ability to turn away from social mores, the ones that tell good Christian women they have only one place they should be, that tell good Christian men where they should be as well, and that tell good Christian children they should be in bed and sleeping at 11:30 pm. I peeked in just five minutes ago and saw love bouncing back and forth there on the line of pillows of our play room floor. This was an exercise in YES. Not the YES of a lazy soul, but the YES of one who hears the sticks of the Big Drummer making the beat for their song.
Some YES' are mistakes, this I know. And so are some NO's. But I have learned that when we are building trust; when we are building friendship; when we are nurturing the ability to dream big and to walk with a little risk in order to get to higher places, YES is the word of choice. At least by instinct. NO may prevail in the end, which is often the right thing, but YES bubbling up first makes for sweeter moments and sweeter memories.