"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Regrets, and saying "yes"

I try really hard not to live with regrets.  Regret, like worry, is a wasted feeling.  Nothing productive can come of it, and both make it impossible to live fully, and joyfully in the moment.  But if I could go back to when I was a new mom ... there are things I would have done differently, to be sure.  A couple are big ones that I'm going to have to live with:  I cannot go back and have the homebirth that I'd deep down really wanted from the start, and never had, and I cannot uncircumcise my oldest son.


But, I find it very empowering to 1) admit that I wished I'd done certain things differently, 2) forgive myself for doing the best I could with the information and knowledge I had at the time, and 3) Learn from my mistakes!

One thing that I wish I'd done right from the start was to say "yes" more.  So many little things that could have brought joy to my kids that I just dismissed out of hand, for no good reason.   I was tired, or I didn't feel like it, or it would make a mess, or I didn't want to spend the money, or spend the time.....

I've learned from that mistake.

I say "yes" now, unless I have a darn good reason.  I've been saying "yes" for a long time now, but I still have those fleeting moments of regret, those reminders that it has been a process to get here.  Those reminders that Spencer didn't get at many "yes"s as a toddler as the others. 

Today we went to to Toys R Us so that Spencer could spend some birthday money.  He picked out a game and some accessories for his DS, I got Tegan a Dora coloring book she wanted, and the boys all bought themselves snacks on the way out.  Outside the store was one of those little coin operated merry-go-rounds.  Tegan had pointed it out to me on the way in, so I knew she'd want to ride it on the way out.   She asked as soon as we reached it, and I was ready with my "yes."

She rode it three times, until I ran out of quarters... laughing and singing as she went around and around.   I watched her enjoying it, and enjoyed it with her, but there was that tiny part of me that thought about the fact that 10 years ago I probably would've said "Not this time,"  or "Maybe another day," or "We need to get home."  And why

Because the germs kind of gross me out.
Because I'm always tired at the end of any sort of shopping trip.
Because I didn't want to stand around in front of a store.
Because I didn't want to go fishing for quarters.

In other words, for NO GOOD REASON.

I've learned from my mistakes.

It took about 5 minutes of our time, and $1.50 in quarters.... and it created a moment of total joy for a three year old.  What was I going to do with that five minutes and 6 quarters anyway?  Surely nothing as important as making my daughter happy.

Today, I will say yes.  Tomorrow, I will say yes.  If it's at all physically possible, and if it'll make my kids look like this:

I will say YES.


Jessica said...

I'm still battling the yes thing, because of the classic "My kids only want to play video games thing". I guess I'm just not radical or enlightened enough yet. But my boys literally WILL play video games all day, if you say yes all day. And there's just a part of me that still stresses about that. So I'm just trying to get out of the house more lately, especially when the weather's good. Because if we're not home, they can't game. :) And then I feel less bad about it when we do get home because at least they've been out in the great big world for awhile.

Kelsey said...

Great post! I've been seeing a lot lately how when I say "no" it's usually for a selfish reason and you're right, there's no good reason. I've started saying "yes" more and it feels good to make my baby girl happy like you say. I wish I never had to say "no", but unfortunately there are things that she just can't do or have for reasons she will not understand fully until she's older. But we are certainly having more fun lately and less of me being too caught up in myself to fully be with her.

jen said...

@Jessica, I've been trying to get out of the house more often too.. not to get them away from video games, but just because too much home time starts to make them pent up, and start to bicker, etc.

@Kelsey, I hate it when I have to say no to things that my daughter doesn't understand. It's much easier with my boys now that they're older. They can accept it now, even if they're disappointed. I too wish I never had to say it though. I have so many people who take issue with the idea of saying "yes," arguing that "In the real world, they're going to hear the word, 'no!'" Well yes, they are, and sometimes we have to say it and that can't be helped. So I see no reason to add MORE no's, just to teach a lesson or whatever. They get plenty of no's in life without our help.

Don't know if any of that made sense; haven't had my coffee yet. lol

Stephanie said...



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