Finding my way to “Yes.”
Sometimes I am staggered by how hard it can be to say “Yes.”
I want to be that mom. I strive to be that mom. The mom who is relaxed and open and embraces all the plans and ideas and visions of my kids.
But sometimes that mom is thwarted by another–the mom who is overwhelemed by how quickly a clean room becomes a messy one, who is chronically ten steps behind, who is so behind on my to-do list that I haven’t made one in years. It’s not that I am a neat freak (ha!), rather that I am always just barely keeping the chaos at bay, so that a lot of extra mess sometimes feels like just enough to push me over the edge to insanity.
All this came to the forefront the other day when Anna came in from the screen porch–where both the girls were industriously engaged in creating of one kind an another–and uttered the dreaded words: “Mom, I need some glitter.”
I said, “Okay, let me help you find some.”
And then I said, “Let’s figure out how we can keep this from being too messy. Let’s get some newspaper we can spread out on the table. Let’s pick out just a few colors.”
So far, so good. We spread out newspaper to contain the glitter. I reminded Anna to be careful with the glitter, and went back inside.
In a few minutes, Anna came back in, and she had a plan. “Mom!” she said excitedly, “I’m going to sprinkle glitter on my head so that I’ll have sparkly hair!!”
(It seems like a good sign that she knew to talk this plan over with me before she did it. It’s not long ago that I would have come out to the screen porch and found her sitting in a pile of glitter.)
“Hmmm,” I said, stalling. “I’m not sure it will stay in your hair that way. Let me think….okay, I have an idea, I’ll meet you back out on the porch.”
“Okay,” said Anna, “I’m going to get more glitter.” Okay. More glitter.
My idea was to bring Anna a small container of hair gel, and she could put the glitter into the gel and put that on her hair. I thought this would also feed her love of mixing concoctions. And would perhaps limit the transfer of glitter to every inch of the house.
It worked pretty well. She was thrilled with this plan, and mixed every glitter color we had into the gel. My thought was that she would make the glitter gel and then we could keep it, but of course she put every last drop onto her hair.
Things did deteriorate a bit after that. Anna’s excitement over her hair and all the glitter was expressed by starting to pour little piles of glitter onto the newspaper–first rolling some beads in it, and then putting her sticky-with-hair-gel hands in the glitter. At this point, I said, “Okaayyy, let’s put the glitter away now and clean up!” which actually went pretty well. The mess was not too bad, and Anna jumped in to help with the clean-up.
Within the hour, Anna was in the shower to wash off her sticky head, but the glittery extravaganza had been quite a thrill.
It feels like a constant balancing act. Especially with Anna, who loves nothing better than hurling her whole body into a messy, mixing, arty project–and is young enough that she really can’t take full responsibility of clean-up, even if she intends to. I treasure those focused moments when she’s fully engaged in creating. But, being a human trying to keep our family life running, I say “no” more often than I like. Or I lose my temper when I’m surprised by the aftermath of a messy project.
So I keep trying. Mainly, when my immediate response wants to be “no,” I try and pause. What would happen if I say yes? Do I have the resources to embrace the plan at hand, to be carried along with the girls on this messy adventure that is our life? When I do, when I can jump full-force into the “yes,” I’m always glad I did.