Every weekend I take the girls to Whole Foods, it’s a ritual. We grab a green smoothie, our veggies, and other special items we need for the week. It’s usually sandwiched in between the pet store and regular grocery store, and always so packed that I can’t wait to just get in and out.
And every week the girls ask me for the same thing, to make fresh orange juice. My answer is always, “No.”
I don’t know why I always say no, maybe it’s the price, I mean $7.99 for 16 ounces, or $13.99 for 32 ounces is a lot of dinero, and it doesn’t last long. Plus I know it will take extra time, and I don’t even want know how to work the machine! So I say what I’ve been saying since they were babies.
Ironically it’s the one word that we all are sometimes afraid to say to our peers or friends. There are countless books and articles teaching us how to learn to say no, so we can free ourselves of unnecessary responsibilities and start taking care of ourselves more. Yet it’s the one word we easily say to our children over and over and over again.
“No you can’t have a cookie before dinner.”
“No baby! No tearing all the cups and Tupperware out of the cabinet.”
“No do not hit the baby with the frying pan like Rapunzel!” (True story.)
There’s even a famous children’s book about it called “No David”.
No was ironically one of the first words our second daughter learned to say. “No no no” she’d coo, and I’d instantly feel guilty. I knew I was less tolerant and patient once we added the second child, and just wanted to keep things simple. So each week when they look at me longingly and plead, “Mommy can we please make our own orange juice?” with those sweet curious eyes, I always say no heartlessly without even thinking or coming up with a good excuse.
Until this week.
I was in a particular hurry to get to dance class and just wanted to pick up a salad a few sundries when our oldest hopelessly asked again, “Mommy, I know you’re going to say no, but please can we make orange juice this time?”She knew I wasn’t likely to pay for it, or take the time, and the look on her face was so resigned. I mean how could I say no, again?
As I opened my mouth to try to think of an excuse, this time I sighed, smiled slightly, and said yes.
Their eyes lit up in excitement and they squealed as they ran to the machine. And while they chose the size container they wanted, I asked someone at Whole Foods how to use the contraption (Which didn’t need instruction by the way, proving that we always make things harder in our heads.) The girls were so giddy as they took turns pressing the button, and watching the sweet, fresh juice pour into their special bottle.
They each made a small orange juice, and carried it proudly to the checkout area where they gently put it on the conveyor belt for me to pay. When we arrived home much later, they asked to have the orange juice for dinner, and savored every sip. Still so happy to know that they had created this sweet treat, and each time they had some, rationing just a little bit each morning, they told their dad the story of how they made it.
As I sat, watched, and listened to the girls, I finally understood the shift that needed to happen. Instead of always being in a hurry, and denying our girls experiences, I need to learn to do the opposite. Be present and aware of each decision I make, thinking through what it all means.
Do I really need to wash the dishes right after dinner and deny them an extra book at bedtime?
As much as I loathe Barbie’s, is 15 minutes of outfit changes really that bad once a week?
It’s so easy to say no to our kids, but there’s more power in and behind the word yes. Yes means we are open to change. Yes means we hear that yes, this is important to you. Yes is love.
In a year, our littlest will be reading to me, and already our oldest doesn’t want to hold my hand when we cross the street. A couple of more years and I won’t be able to kiss her goodbye at school drop off, or have those extra-long cuddles each night. This time we have with our children is so important yet so incredibly short.
So I’ve made the promise to myself to think before I utter the word no, and try to give our girls all the time and experiences I can. No may be instinctual, but yes unlocks a world of tomorrow’s memories.
And just might make me smile too.
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Herchel S says
Thanks to you I just said yes to teaching my kids how to roller skate this week while Daddy is away! (What was I thinking?!)
OH NO! How bad was it???
I’m guilty if being the no mom, and I confess that the majority if my “noes” are due to time constraints. And the few times I do say “yes,” have all created such joy. Why can’t I remember that? Thanks for the reminder
I just let my baby fall asleep on me, just because she asked. I wanted to say no, but I wept when she was asleep. I was so happy and at peace. Why do we say no so much?!
Aubrey @ 53 weeks says
Great reminder, The power of YES!!! Love it!
Thank you friend!
Tamara Bowman says
Aw.. now that made me thirsty for orange juice! I don’t know if we have such a magical machine at our Whole Foods.
There’s a big power in “no” but probably even a bigger one in “YES.”
Check it out, you would LOVE it!
You are spot on…YES, is powerful. I have a few wise friends that always talk about how instead of no, rephrase it to a positive. Say “put your feet on the floor please” rather than “take your feet off the table.” Love this post AND love fresh juice.
Janine Huldie says
You said this perfectly and I do sometimes forget how using the word “Yes” more than “No” can truly make a huge difference with my kids and how my day will go with them. Thanks for the reminder here today!! 🙂
Kathy Radigan says
I adore this!!!! I’m have found the same thing yes can be so powerful!!!
YES !! I needed this reminder — thank you
I did too, thanks for reading!
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
Love this Kristen! Yes is one of the most powerful words we can use with our children. Even if it has to be a “no” there are ways around it being a “no”.
Sometimes when kids hear no too much – they begin to take it personally like the “no” isn’t just about something… that it’s about them and a rejection of them. Tough stuff indeed.
There are so many alternatives to “no” and there’s the always powerful “yes”.
Thanks for sharing (and inspiring).
I still say no, but I’m learning. It’s such a hard job this motherhood gig, but I am loving it and feeling peaceful as I say yes more!
I definitely need to work on saying, “yes” more. Great post!
I think we all do!
So true. I’m always saying “no” to our kids. I keep reading about families who have a ‘yes day’ where the parents are required to say ‘yes’ to reasonable requests. I think that if proper boundaries are set, that could make a kid’s week.
Amanda Elder says
Such a sweet and thoughtful piece. I’ve had similar moments xo