Monday, May 24, 2010

yes and no

Motherhood has a way of baiting and switching. As soon as I reach a day where all goes well, where the activities flow with minimal meltdown, where there is little TV and much pretend, music and dancing and reading, where my child puts away toys without being asks and says please and thank you more often then not, I think, "Wow! I really have this figured out!"

And then today happens.

Nothing particularly bad. Just twice as much TV by 10:30 am as I am actually comfortable with; two meltdowns, Lucy destroying something I was working on, me getting sulky twice (yes, ME, not her), and a child telling me that I tell her no way too often.

Coming as this does on the heels of Momalom's "Yes" posting for 5 for 10, wherein many mothers tried a "Yes" day where they banished no altogether, it did not make for a real confidence booster.

See, the thing is, I know I say no too often. I say no too often to myself. I like rules, and coloring between the lines, and caution and safety, and while this has brought some great things into my life (few relationship mishaps, not a lot of drama, stick-to-itiveness), it can also tend towards, well, stinginess. Boundaries, I'm fine with. But I can be stingy towards myself. I don't want to be stingy with my kids.

Funny thing though---there is no getting away from your personality when you're parenting.

I sat down with Lucy and I said, "Honey, I'm sorry. I know I say no too often. Can you use words to tell me that, instead of ruining things that I'm doing?"
She nodded, and sat on my lap, and we read a Frances book together. And the rest of the day has been fine.

I wish I had a perfectly whole mommy to give my children, a mommy that knew exactly when to say yes and no, that reacted with grace and generosity at all the right moments. But instead I am a beautiful but broken jar mended together with Bondo and spit-polished instead.

After a few hours of feeling bad about myself, I decided to feel good about a few things. One, I ask for forgiveness, and try to own up to my failings. Perhaps that will help my daughter more than me being perfect all the time, since forgiveness is more useful than perfection in this world. Two, talking to Lucy really seemed to make her feel better. That's got to count for something. And three, all of us took long naps today. Which means that a lot of what went wrong this morning wasn't my fault, but just us getting over our colds.

Sleep. A great confidence booster, any day.


Rob said...

It really sounds like your being too hard on your self. You can't break out of your Meyers-Briggs box completely, and it sounds like your trying to be flexible, which you should be proud of. Besides, isn't it just as important for Lucy to learn to deal with other peoples personality quarks right from the start?

Heather said...

Thanks, Rob. Yes! Perhaps I should work on increasing my personality quirks, so as to challenge her.

Sarah said...

Wow, this is some pretty powerful stuff. All the way around. I'm so glad you jumped in with this.

I, too, say No too often. Or rather, SAID No too often. I'm reforming. I've realized my children are only going to own these childhoods now and I better get on board. I better start making the most of it.

And then there's this: "I say No too often to myself." Oh, yes to that. That's a whole series of posts right there.

Heather said...

thanks Sarah--Oh, the "no" to myself is so persistent. Us buttoned down types have trouble with this. Again--I don't see it as being all bad, but balance, people! we need balance!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really never thought about how my own "stinginess" or nay-saying towards myself could also be related to nay-saying towards my child. Great insight! Thanks for sharing.

Take it easy on yourself. Watching us accept grace for our own inadequacies teaches our children to do the same. (I have a hard time accepting grace myself, so I'm basically preaching to myself here.)

Meagan Frank said...

Interesting that you said this. I have some encouragement for can grow out of it! I am a color-in-the-lines sort of gal too, and I am learning to let go of some of that "stinginess" you talked about, and in the process, more of the "no's" are disappearing too. Good post!