This is my final post for Momalom’s Five for Ten. Sniff. I’ll be reading other Five for Ten blog posts for weeks. If you have the time or inclination, hop over to Momalom and check out some of the amazing writing out there.
Since it’s Wednesday, I’m combining Wonder Why Wednesday with today’s topic, Yes.
When my oldest was around 16 months old, he was a Yes Man. The answer to every question was, Yes! The word escaped in a burst, with emphasis on the s. Yes! A small, quick head bob, chin to chest, seconded the motion. I’m all in. Yes!
Of course, he didn’t know yes from a hole in the wall and we were forever managing toddler tantrums resulting from our inability to read his mind. You said Yes! We thought you meant it! But, really, you do not want to swing. You want to slide. How could we have been so thoughtless as to take you at your word?
Occasional tantrums aside, living in a world of Yes! was infinitely better than the world of No! (a phase that came on the heels of Yes!).
Until I was an adult, I don’t think I agonized a lot over Yes! vs. No! decisions. I think my life was more black and white then. Yes! I will spend the night at your house. No! I will not get in the car with you, strange person. Yes! I’m going to my first choice college. No! I will not go to a party instead of studying. (I totally went to that party instead of studying, but in my head I was saying, “No!”, and I told my parents I said, “No!” Thankfully, that muddled choice worked out just fine in the end.)
Flash forward, I’m out of college – in spite of choosing the occasional party over studying – and I have to decide if it’s Yes! I’ll take the job. Or No! There’s something better out there so I’ll wait.
Yesses (Yeses? Yessi? What is the plural here?) and No’s. Deciding between them is suddenly a process. The choices suddenly have ramifications beyond a semester grade or a summer job.
Somewhere along the line, I think I got kind of caught up in all my serious adultness and forgot the unadulterated joy of living in a Yes! world. I forgot to bob my head, chin to chest, and shout, Yes! Instead it started coming out, head slightly tilted, with a question mark instead of an exclamation point. Yes?
I suspect there are lots of reasons for the shift from ! to ?. A couple that come to mind:
I’ve been burned by too many yesses. All of a sudden the calendar was packed with committee meetings, events, work commitments and very little time for activities that I chose, or for free time with friends and family.
Then I had kids and the me time went way, way down, so it was hard to say Yes! too many times. Yes! meant a lot of coordination on my end and not enough time to manage it all (at least not the way I thought it should be managed).
And one day, even the hesitant Yes? disappeared entirely, becoming No. Before long, I realized I was lonely. Perhaps I was even feeling just a tad unfulfilled with all of my carefully organized me time and family time.
So I started to say Yes! more often. My family started to say Yes! even when our knee-jerk reaction was No, thanks. The payoff? I cannot quantify or qualify it, except to say that Yes! absolutely pays off. Certainly, like my toddler realized during his Yes Man period, sometimes we say Yes! and wow, are we disappointed in the result. Usually, however, wow. Wow. We end up with unique, fulfilling experiences. We have moments, days even, of fun that we would have missed by saying No.
Saying Yes! to putting ourselves out there, to helping someone else, to going out of our way (what we consider out of our way – that’s kind of relative, no?) for an event, social engagement, or activity, gets us out of our own heads. It gets us out of our isolated, small world. Sometimes we learn something. Sometimes we meet new people. Sometimes we see something completely absurd and hysterical, providing us with years of “Do you remember?” moments. Sometimes it’s not that grand. Sometimes it’s just a way to break the routine, to get away from the day-to-day, same old, same old.
Whatever the impetus for answering in the affirmative, whatever the result, I’ve learned that the Yes! phase is better than No!
Except for the times when No is absolutely necessary, I’m going to work being a Yes Woman. So here’s my Wonder Why Wednesday: Yes! Edition:
I wonder, why do you say no instead of yes?
Are you a Yes Man or a No Way? What’s your first instinct?
Do you think life’s better in a Yes! world or am I oversimplifying, Polly Anna-ing the subject?
Just a quick addendum – the topic of Yes was inspired by Aidan over at Ivy League Insecurities, in honor of her debut novel, Life After Yes. Go get the book! Read it! Then join us over at Motherese to talk about it! Just a suggestion…