learning to say yes.

Face plant

In college, thrilled to be involved in campus ministry, I said yes to a lot of things and spent a lot of nights per week being busy. Bible studies plus working plus, you know, college and homework. I learned a lot of things about planning events and friendship. But mostly what I learned was how to say no. I needed more boundaries in my life, and I slowly erected walls to protect my time.

While these walls were pretty comfortable, I think it is safe to say that I missed out on some things by keeping them so high.

When we said yes to Atticus, I immediately started worrying about whether I was fit to be a mother. Because I am so boring. Because I live such a small life. Because I am afraid to try things.

And so I resolved to start saying yes more. To take leaps of faith, to try things, to be less afraid of looking foolish. It might not be what you think of as parenting, but it was the first glimmer of parenting I could wrap my mind around.

My very first resolution was to go parasailing this summer. I sat on the beach last summer watching the parasailers and feeling Atticus kick and made plans. When we arrived for our vacation this summer, I made sure that everyone knew I meant it. Parasailing is not that big of a deal. But I had never done it! And Mike would never ever agree to do it with me! It was, to me, a symbol of the sort of mom I want to be for Atticus.

Atticus, though, had different plans for me. His idea of a beach vacation is apparently to avoid sleep as much as possible. After a week of sleep deprivation, I ended up sleeping only about three hours on the night before our reservations. I was in no shape to do much of anything. In fact, we came home a day early. It cost time and money and frustration to cancel, and I felt so foolish for even having thought of going. Instead of me trying something new, it was a sad story with a lot of crying (me from fatigue, Atticus maybe because he was having a growth spurt). I want my life to tell a good story, including the motherhood part, and my first attempt was a failure.

(We are experiencing technical difficulties this morning, so if you don’t see the video, you can click here to watch it on YouTube.)

When I got home, I saw this video by Jenny the Bloggess, and it helped. (Disclaimer for my mother: language.) I am definitely the sort of person to sit on the side and think, “Oh, I bet that was fun.” (It’s part of not joining things and also not wanting to look dumb.) I am new at this whole “saying yes” thing, but what I learned from Jenny is that it takes both a willing attitude and some time. With practice, maybe I can make it more of a regular thing and less like something on my to-do list.

I don’t have a bucket list or a life list, mostly because of that whole small life thing I mentioned above. Small dreams, too. But it has helped, when making decisions, to think if something might be a bucket list item for me. If I might regret sitting to the side. So I have said yes to a few things since that were slightly out of character or maybe a little bit of a stretch for me.

And that is how I found myself in a crowd of old people and gay men at a Dolly Parton concert.

I’ll come back and tell you about Dolly in a couple of days. Meanwhile, you tell me about your bucket list items or maybe if you have a hard time saying yes. Or no.

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