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Making Every Day A "Yes" Day

A friend of mine has a chronic illness. What, exactly, isn’t important. But think Lyme disease, except the lows are much lower. So sometimes she’s on top of the world, and sometimes she’s literally crippled and out of commission for several days. Her life is incredibly inconstant and hard to predict, and has been so for a couple of years. And I’ve learned a lot about grace and a sense of humor and humility from watching her battle this thing.

The past couple of years have been incredibly hard on her child, of course, and living in constant uncertainty – Is Mommy having a Good Day, or a Bad Day? – has taken its toll on the girl. But it’s also shaping the child into what I think will be a very strong, unshakeable adult who knows that Something Bad happening is not the end of the world.

One of the things I’ve grown to admire most about my friend is how she approaches each and every Good Day determined to drink every drop from it, and it’s definitely influenced my parenting. When it’s a Good Day, nothing is off the table, and my friend is the epitome of Yes Parenting. Long bike rides with her daughter, exploring through the neighborhood “jungle”, making sand castles in their flower beds – everything’s fair game and nothing’s off limits. There’s never a time when she rolls her eyes and thinks, “Hey, Kid, I just want ten minutes by myself to check email. Go entertain yourself.” My friend is Present.

Every minute she can be.

There has to be boundaries, of course, and the child doesn’t rule the roost. But thanks to my friend, I find myself giving a reflexive “no” less and less often. For my girlfriend, she literally has no idea when her Good Day will end and when her child will be forced to entertain herself anyway. So she barrels ahead, luxuriating furiously in every moment right up to the last second.

Don’t you wonder – what would your family life be like if you lived that way?

Messier, sure. Less down time, sure. Less television at night when little voices call you back upstairs for “one more snuggle” and you swallow your crabby sense of “But I’m off-duty now!” and head up there to love on your kid. Less of your to-do list crossed off, most likely.

But so much more of the good stuff, don’t you think?

Our kids need to learn that they’re just one part of a big picture – that they aren’t the center of the universe. I’m not denying that. But perhaps we need to learn that there are more important things than updating our Facebook status one more time.

Like making sand castles in the flower beds, for example.


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