I’m a yes mom. When my son came into the world, we both cried when I said no. Maybe it had something to do with unmet longings from losing my father during childhood. Maybe it was the sudden deep realization that this little human being looked to me to make sense of a world that just doesn’t play fair. So in the beginning, I said yes. To everything.

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Three and a half years later, I’m starting to see that saying no isn’t the end of the world. Still, it’s hard. Will he be hurt in a way I’ve felt hurt? Will it scar him if I say no? Will I be perpetuating some cycle of brokenness that I’ve felt my whole life?

I’ve always said yes. It’s the easiest thing to say.

It’s the word that will pacify tempers. It will smooth over bruised egos. It will make people believe they’re justified in the way they think even if you never agree with them. Sometimes, saying yes can even make you feel like you’re doing something grand—even if it hurts your soul in the end.

I’m a yes mom.

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But my son is three and a half, the oldest before two little girls. My third came just before the pandemic hit. Since then, I’ve had to say no more often. No, I can’t build the LEGOs. No, I can’t warm up the macaroni and cheese to the exact right temperature. No, I can’t take you to Chik-fil-A or the park or a million other places we all want to go.

I’m trusting all those nos will lead to a boy who is better able to handle the slings and arrows that go along with this life.

I’m hoping my 2-year-old daughter will see her mom saying no and automatically assume she can stand up for herself without feeling like an utter failure. I’m even slowly realizing saying no is actually one of those beautiful words that can protect sanity and various valuables from being broken.

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It’s still hard. I don’t want to say no. The truth is, I want the world to be fixed for my kids the way it wasn’t for me. I want them to have that elusive everything I felt was missing after I lost my dad. But what I’m slowly coming to terms with is that sometimes, the no was just as necessary for the girl who lost her dad as it is for the kids I’m raising. 

Life isn’t always going to play fair, and it’s going to play unfair in a thousand different ways. More than giving my kids the everything I want, I want to give them the discipline that helps them keep standing when life tells them no because sometimes it’s discipline that can lead to a beautiful yes. 

Melissa Elizondo

Mel Elizondo is an avid photography enthusiast, cook, and nature lover. She's also a mom of three kids, three and under. When she's not busy scraping food off the floor, she's either looking up a new recipe she'd like to cook or editing her novel. You can find her adventures over at https://theothersideoftherabbithole.wordpress.com/