The most important job I have in life, the one that brings me in equal turns satisfaction and frustration, boundless joy and tears of sorrow, is that of being a mother.
I consider this sacred duty of raising kind, compassionate, honest, not entitled, and not afraid of hard work little humans very seriously. It is a responsibility that weighs heavily. There are no days off, and it lasts beyond a lifetime. It is also a job that allows for great variety and flexibility in how you accomplish its day to day requirements. You know that quote that says something like, ” There is no one way to be a great mom, but there are a million ways to be a good one.”? It applies here.
It is the most challenging and joy-filled job ever.
Because I take my job seriously, I try to embrace and celebrate the silly, messy, absurd reality that comes with it. For example, the diarrhea blowout that flows down your leg and pools in your shoe during church. How about the comments you never thought you would utter? i.e., stop licking your brother’s foot; it is not ok to share boogers, and the cat poop does not feel like play-doh. Sigh.
I read on a card once, when my firstborn was still a toddler, the importance of saying yes as often as possible. Our children hear the word NO so frequently in the context of keeping them safe, healthy, and respectful that saying yes needs to be a more significant part of their life. Not in a spoiled have whatever you want way but in a balanced yin yang way. After reading that, I pondered it. I let it sink deep. Then I kept my eyes open to the moments that would allow me to say yes when, at first glance, I would have said no.
“Mommy, I want peanut butter and jelly for breakfast and lemonade, please!” Hmm? Would it hurt her? No. Yes, you may have peanut butter and jelly and lemonade for breakfast.
“Mommy, can we play outside”? I look to see a medium rain pour out the window. Hmm? Lightning or thunder? No. Freezing? No. Yes, we can play outside! On went her zebra raincoat and frog face boots. We talked and explored, plucked worms off the sidewalk, and splashed in every puddle. Rainy day outings became our “thing” from that day on.
“Mommy, will you sing me to sleep?” I can’t carry a tune. My singing voice is terrible. I’ve been up since 3 am and want to relax. Hmm? Yes, I will sing you to sleep, little love.
“Mommy, let’s make mud pies.” “Mommy, I’ll do your makeup today.” ” But Mommy, I like wearing two different shoes and daddy’s socks with my church dress.” “Mommy, read it again. I like hearing it five times in a row.” Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
Their little faces and too-big eyes, the energy and love that pours out of them like sunshine, their hugs, and kisses, deserve an emphatic yes in a sea of no’s. Having children in their 30’s, as well as almost 12-year-old twins, I know. And I knew back then that time was the enemy of moments like these.
Of all the things you may do with a child, saying yes to reading them a book is vital. Many of my treasured memories include snuggling with one of my little loves on my lap as I read to them. Time is fleeting. They will outgrow bedtime stories and walks in the rain and mismatched clothes to church. The sweet bond felt when you immerse yourself in those moments is priceless. The learning that takes place while reading goes without saying. It is a crucial element in their becoming competent readers and instills in them a love of reading or at least an appreciation of books and their importance.
Parenthood, grandparent-hood, aunt-hood, and uncle-hood, the kid of my best friend-hood, teacher-hood, and friend-hood, is a job that comes with great responsibility. When you love the children in your life, regardless of role, you are there for a purpose. You will teach them, guide them, and quite often tell them no for their good. It will be more than they will understand or care to hear. The next time a request by a little one in your life presents itself, pause. Ask yourself the responsible adult questions, then if possible, even if it may seem unconventional, reply in the affirmative.
The fun, the silliness, the wonder, the laughter, the tender moments, the inevitable mess, and the lifelong memories will be worth saying yes.