Saying yes

Years ago I wrote about not understanding what people meant when they called their children their greatest teachers.  And then I wrote about suddenly getting what that means.  I wrote about that on Karen’s beautiful blog.  And Grace and Whit are still teaching me things, over and over again.  Most recently, the lesson was about the difference between saying no and saying yes.

I read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person at the end of last year and it made me think.  A lot.  I fretted: was I just saying no to things too much?  I talked about this reaction, and this question, with Grace and Whit.  Maybe I needed to start saying yes to social engagements more, to going out?  What did they think?  Was I saying no too much?

They looked at me in abject horror.  I stared back, surprised by their reaction.  “What?”

“No.”  Grace said firmly, shaking her head.

“Mummy,” Whit interjected.  “You aren’t saying no to things.  Don’t think of it like that.  You’re saying yes to us.”

And once again, I was reminded of that when I stared into these two faces.  Grace, olive skin, brown eyed, her features angular and lean and those of a young woman now, and Whit, blue eyed, fair, blond.  I looked at their two cleft chins, just like mine, the planes of their faces as familiar as my own.


I’m saying yes to them.  Yes, I am.  And to writing, and reading, and sleeping, and the things I’ve chosen as my priorities.  But most of all, I’m saying yes to them.  To Grace and Whit.

What are you saying yes to, these days, this new year?

31 thoughts on “Saying yes”

  1. How I love this. Doesn’t it feel good to confirm, and have confirmed by the ones that matter most, that you’re making just the right choices? And that, by saying no, you are actually saying yes? This is powerful.

  2. What a great reminder – and how wonderful to get it from your kids! They have taken your important lessons about prioritizing what really matters to heart, and they’ve seen them in action in your house. How affirming.

  3. ““Mummy,” Whit interjected. “You aren’t saying no to things. Don’t think of it like that. You’re saying yes to us.””

    Heck yes! This is perfect.

    I played in an adult hockey for 13 straight years. I quit 2 years ago. It was still fun while I was there on the ice, but not fun when I had to leave the kids behind. It was not fun when (even though only 1 night a week) I had to miss reading my son to sleep. I just came to the realization that in 20 years I would have rather had that time with the kids than without.

    I have a friend that is constantly trying to get me to join up for a league that’s like a 45 minute drive away. He has kids too but I know he holds it against me when I say no. But that, I can live with.

  4. Yeah, I could live with that too. I get guilt-trips by friends too (or at least that is how I feel – but probably that’s my own sensitivity, maybe?). But at the end of the day, I am comfortable with my choices. It was great to see Whit arguing the same towards me, and it felt so reassuring. xox

  5. Love how kids see things so clearly. They know you so well, yes?

    For me, this is making me think. I feel like perhaps I need to say no more to external requests, but I need to say yes more to myself- to the things that I keep putting off because I don’t have time. But I don’t have time because I say yes to things that aren’t really a priority. Make sense?

  6. I’m really struggling with saying NO to social events and friends. I was single for the large part of my adult life and now that I am married with two babies, I have less time for myself and for girlfriends, exercise. In all honestly girlfriends, exercise, reading, writing all really matter to me but I find it hard to find time in the day for everything. Looking forward to reading Sondra’s book and hopefully gleaning a way to say yes

  7. A friend of mine has said, “You don’t actually know what your ‘yes’ means until you know how to say ‘no’.”

    So congratulations! Your priorities are rock solid…

  8. Your children are brilliant. With work and school activities and athletics, I take our family time very seriously. I love when it is just the four of us together, playing a game on the floor or going out to dinner or just eating dinner together at home. People often say to me, “We never see you!” I hate that. I do love my friends, but it takes a lot to pull me away from time at home – or elsewhere – with them.

  9. I knew you had read that book, based on previous comments, so I was curious to hear your thoughts.

    I’m finding that what makes me feel especially strong in this new year is the clarity of values I’m coming to and making sure that my actions match my intentions. It’s an interesting feeling of empowerment – – this ability to say “no” when I measure something against that list of important things, find it lacking, and then no longer need to justify my answer to anyone but myself.

  10. In 2016 I am trying to be more thoughtful and intentional about saying yes, knowing who and what receive the accompanying no. I say yes way too often and sometimes end up diluted, scattered, resentful, and tired. This piece, like all of your writing, so eloquently captures the messy, gray, complicated, and absolutely beautiful fabric of life. Thank you for your honesty, your vulnerability and your lovely writing. I love reading such inspiring words from a fellow Tiger.

  11. Sometimes our kids are like wise Yodas, aren’t they? When you homeschool your kids as I have, you learn real fast that they have a completely different way of looking at the world–and often they are (frustratingly) smarter than we are! They’re just not weighed down by convention and tradition. “You aren’t saying no to things. Don’t think of it like that. You’re saying yes to us.” Wise, wise, wise.

  12. Thank you. I so appreciate hearing that. And I love that way of thinking about no and yes … they are intertwined, after all!

  13. Me too. I get the same, all the time. And it makes me feel bad, but at the same time, I am very comfortable with the tradeoffs. This is a short season …

  14. Oh, wow. Thank you so much for such incredibly kind words. You’ve brought me to tears this Monday afternoon. xo

  15. Just loved reading this Lindsey. Every yes includes a no. Each moment a ship sails that we aren’t on. The challenge, always, is to find the meaning and the beauty in choices we do make. Whit’s clarity takes my breath away. You are blessed and so are your two beautiful children.

  16. It’s true! There’s no way around it. Saying no to one thing really is saying yes to another. This year, for my writing goals, I’m saying no to trying to get work all over creation so that I can say yes to working on a nonfiction book about Judaism, which many never get published, but is something I care about deeply.

  17. Well, consider me lined up to read it. Not a topic I know a lot about, but I am eager to read anything you write!

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