On Becoming The Yes Mom
When certain things in my life felt like they were out of control, my anxiety would generally get the better of me and I’d find myself trying to get it back by at the expense of my kids.
That meant a whole lot of the word “no.”
No eating in the living room.
No, you cannot stay up late.
No glitter. Just no.
It felt good at the time, albeit momentarily, the act of sublimating my desire to say “no” or “stop it” or “cut it the hell out,” which wasn’t really meant for my kids but for other people in my life with whom I felt completely powerless.
But in doing so, in saying “no” to my kids, I didn’t really get any of the control back that I actually wanted.
Things just got more out of control.
And I just ended up feeling like crap.
So I decided to rethink this whole approach to my own feelings and to what was becoming a crappy parenting technique, because the power I so desperately want, the control that I want to gain back, well, that’s just not going to happen, at least when it comes to certain people because they’re people.
And I’m just not the boss of them.
I’m also not really the boss of my kids, either. They’re people too, small people and inexperienced in this world, but people with feelings and emotions nonetheless.
The only thing I’m really the boss of in my life are my own feelings and how I react to and interact with others. That means with other people, but to me, most importantly right now, my children.
I can allow myself to express my frustration — on the treadmill, in the quiet of my room, in my car alone where no one can hear me scream or see me cry — and then use it towards teaching moments with my kids.
“The last time you ate in the living room, you left your food on the coffee table. Will you remember to clean it up this time?”
“When you stayed up late last time, you were really grouchy. I think weekends are better for that.”
I will probably still always say no to glitter. And riding their bike in the middle of the street.
I have not suddenly become a pushover. They’re not eating four extra desserts or running loose in Target. Mostly, anyway.
On the contrary, I’m expressing the need for some sense of control and power in my life in a positive way. Quite frankly, the effort that it takes to say “Yes” or “Maybe, let’s figure this out” and having a meaningful discussion and exchange with my kids is less than it takes to say “No!” and then deal with the fallout. The tantrums. The anger. The apologies. Mine and theirs.
And they learn nothing from having their requests, their own feelings, their needs shut down without acknowledgement or explanation other than not to share them in the first place. Be seen, not heard.
So I’m doing my best to be a Yes Mom. Because my kids deserve that. And the peace of mind, well, I deserve that too.Published June 23, 2015. Last updated June 24, 2015.