Since the day I told my mom I was pregnant, she and I have had almost daily conversations about how to parent, so I was shocked to find out that after raising three kids of her own, she admitted that she still doesn't really know how to "successfully parent".
I initially found this confusing and disappointing because I kind of needed my mom to tell me exactly how to raise my child. I needed her to write out her rule book of how to not screw up my daughter, but she didn't feel qualified to do that because she claimed she'd made a lot of mistakes along the way. Gasp.
large and in charge at 37 weeks preggo
Though she didn't have that perfect parenting rule book, she's continued to always offer a listening ear and a number of options for my frequent parenting dilemmas. During one of our conversations a few months ago, she casually told me her parenting mantra that gave me one of the biggest "aha" moments of my life and perhaps changed the way I would make a lifetime of parenting decisions.
She said "Don't say no when you can say yes. If you don't have one good reason to say no besides that it's just inconvenient for you, try to say yes."
Hold the phone. I swear to you that one single piece of advice has never made so much sense to me and helped me make so many decisions in such a short time.
These decisions right now aren't life changing and are surely as simple as they ever will be. After all, changing a diaper and cleaning up toys has to be easier than what I'm bound to face in the years to come.
These decisions recently involved whether or not I should let my toddler feed herself a small bowl of ice cream in public or whether or not she can stay up an extra hour past her bedtime to jump on the couch and play with her toys.
I know applying this mantra is going to get harder to do, as I can only imagine how much pressure I'll feel when having to make decisions that involve actually shaping someone's life. My mom has given me 500 examples of when this mantra was the only thing that helped her put her finger on a parenting decision, and in hindsight some of those crucial decisions helped my siblings and I gain independence and the ability to make and learn from our (often big) mistakes.
I feel equipped to give exactly zero parenting advice (as I'm kind of new at this whole mom thing) but rather share my parenting mantra that has absolutely helped me me enjoy parenthood immensely more and given me more confidence when I wouldn't otherwise know up from down or right from wrong.
My mom caught eyes with me and smiled last night at dinner when I muttered "Don't say no when you can say yes, right?" with a shoulder shrug after my daughter ditched her spoon and tipped the ice cream bowl straight into her mouth. We were eating at a pizza joint outside, with family only, and I knew she'd be going straight in the tub when we got home. She made a mess, but it made her life. Though I had a massive (inconvenient for me) mess to clean up, her joy was written all over her face in the form of chocolate chunks in her hair and all over her teeth.
the beginning of the chaos before she was all SPOON ON
THE FLOOR, HAIR BOW OFF, AND BOTTOMS UP
Giving my child that happy moment was a good idea, so I said yes.
And Mom, even though you didn't give me a rule book, I still think you're pretty perfect.