I am the mom with the clean house and fully checked off to do list. I’m the mom with dinner made and laundry done. I’m the mom who immediately unpacks today’s backpacks and repacks for tomorrow. I’m the efficient, productive mom who mostly has her shit together. I’m proud of these mom skills. I think they are how I reconciled my need for order and control with the chaos of the baby phase of childrearing.
What I am not proud of is being the mom who says no. No, we can’t do the messy art project because I just cleaned. No, I’ll do that whatever chore by myself because its quicker than letting you kids help. No, I don’t want to go to “insert tedious kid activity place here” because its boring and a hassle. No, I don’t want to crank up the radio because its just too much chaos right now.
I think a lot of the no’s were okay when they were littler so I don’t necessarily regret them because, again, I think I needed them in order to get through. What had started to bother me was how quick I was to say no to even the simplest things. Much of the time the no came from a place of me not wanting to put out the effort rather than coming from a place of the request truly being unreasonable. They are big kids now and they want to have a messy, wild, magical childhood. That is a reasonable request. I had that kind of childhood and in recent months I’ve been worried that I was slacking on my kids. As the school year came to a close, and the prospect of all the terrifying unstructured days of summer loomed, I stumbled onto a blog about written by a woman with some similar concerns. It was just the nudge I needed.
With all that in mind it seemed like summer would be the perfect time to ease into more yes’s.
Yes, we can break out the paint that I have had sitting in a cabinet for two years now.
Yes, we can go to the pool. Again.
Yes, we can make an unplanned stop at the park and then have to eat cookies for lunch since it was lunchtime and all I had in the car was a new pack of cookies.
Yes, I’ll suck it up and brave Carowinds.
Yes, we can have 30+ people over and rent a bounce house.
Yes, you can pee in the yard.
Now, not all the yes’s will be expensive or elaborate. Even just a few weeks into this project I am noticing that the little, easy yes’s are just as thrilling for them as the big, fancy ones. Yes, you can stir the muffin batter, play with the iPad, go eat popsicles on the porch elicits just as much joy as yes, we can go to big, loud indoor play place. And I will still say no sometimes because its a ridiculous request or even just because I don’t want to. I’m not a total convert here, people, and I do still like my house clean, my laundry done and my errands under control. So we compromise. We hit an errand and then a park. We go to the gym and then the waterpark. We have a friend over and then I clean the house. Its a balance that we’re all learning every day. I’m proud to have shown them Efficient Mom and now I’m ready to show them some Fun Mom. Most importantly, my kids and I are all happier and summer is feeling really good. And the lawn’s well watered..