As soon as my daughter hears the jingle of my keys and the clicking of my heel as I walk home, an overly enthusiastic voice emerges, Mummmmmy!!! I’m greeted with high pitched laughter as she bounces up and down like a bunny who just had red bull.
It’s a very zealous welcome no doubt, but her eagerness makes me nervous. I can never fathom where Sophie gets her boundless energy from every single day, because by the time I knock off, I’m just looking forward to get home, kick off my heels and collapse on the sofa. But Sophie has other plans on her mind.
“Mummy, I’m playing school with my babies (an affectionate term for her soft toys) today. Can you be my assistant teacher?”
“My friends are at the playground now. Can you take me down so I can join them?”
“I just borrowed a new book from the library, lets read it.”
Whenever she asks me to do something with her the moment I step home, my first response is often, “No, I’m tired and I want to rest.”
I know that sounds horribly mean but mama also needs a mental break you know. The kind of break that dads often enjoy when they zone out with their eyes glue to their mobile phone, computer or TV (pick one).
Sure, I love Sophie very much and would love to hear all about her day, who she sat and ate with at recess, funny stories that happened in class, the new titles she borrowed from the school library. But to put in extra effort to play or to go to the playground is quite another story.
“Why do you always say no when I ask you to play with me? I waited for you all day…”
And that’s when the working mummy’s guilt hits me like a tidal wave. If you’re wondering, mummy’s guilt never quite goes away even when your child gets older because you’ll always feel a pang of guilt for missing out something in their lives.
So to redeem myself, I surprise her with a Yes. Not everyday, but some days and it’s enough to keep her happy. And oh how her eyes light up and her love tank gets filled when I say the magic word, Yes. And I’ve come to realise that when yes is said genuinely, not the halfhearted, lets get this over and done with, patronizing kind of attitude, I have to admit that the experience is usually fun for both of us.
So these are 5 areas that Sophie wants me to say yes to.
- When she asks me to play with her
- When she asks me to read to her (you’ll be surprised that they still enjoy be read to at 7)
- When she wants me to tuck her to bed
- When she wants me to monkey around with her
- When she wants me to be crazy (oh yes, she’s a little wild one)
I think I might just think twice about point 5 for now…
When we say yes, we are opening an opportunity to make connection with our kids.
And I need to remind myself that saying yes does not mean that I’m bending backwards for her. I say yes more often now so I know that even if I have to say no sometimes, Sophie will be more understanding because she’s assured and her love tank is filled by the many times I said yes to.
And look how much joy and happiness it gives her when I turn a no to yes.
This post was inspired after watching this TEDTalks video by Shonda Rhimes, the incredible titan behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, and who I suspects never ever sleeps. She made a bold move to say yes to everything for a year.
So the next time your child asks you to play or read with them, what’s your response gonna be?
I hope it’s going to be a yes.
If saying yes is too big a step, then how about starting with, Why Not.