Let’s talk about this morning’s moment in motherhood.
“Sophia, you need to get dressed and put your shoes on!”
“Okay, Mom! Can I wear a dress?”
“Yes, you can wear a dress!”
“Can I wear my butterfly dress?”
“Yes, you can wear your butterfly dress. Now get dressed!”
“Can I wear my headband?”
“Yes, you can wear your headband. But get going!”
“Can I wear my cowgirl boots?”
“Sophia! No. You can’t wear your cowgirl boots. Put on your sandals and come brush your teeth!”
“Mom! Please!! I love my boots! I never get to wear my boots. I love them so much and you never let me wear them!”
(Well, it’s summer. It’s 85 degrees outside and boots are for fall). “Sophia. It’s hot outside! Put on your flip flops and come brush your teeth!”
I listened to her closet door open and close as I finished brushing my teeth. And then I heard her thump-thump down the hallway. I glanced up and saw my sweet, stubborn Sophia, proudly standing before me dressed in her butterfly dress, her gold glitter headband, and those beloved cowgirl boots.
And gosh darnit. She looked adorable.
“Mom please… please, I love them so much. They look great. I won’t be hot. I think they look really good and I really want to wear my boots.”
I sighed. A big heavy mom sigh. Because guess what? She was right. Why did I even have her cowgirl boots in her closet if I wasn’t ever going to let her wear them? And why did I tell her no?
Sure, it was hot outside and sandals would’ve been a better pick. They would’ve been easier to slip on and off too. In fact, that’s what it came down to. Easier. More convenient. I automatically assumed that her sandals were more comfortable and a better match, but in reality, that was just my opinion. It wasn’t wrong or right. It was just my perception of what I perceived to be right. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was choosing convenience and my own power at the expense of fostering my own daughter’s independence and autonomy. Over something as petty as a pair of boots.
I bent down and brushed one of my daughter’s blonde hairs away from her face, tucking it behind her gold glittery headband. I did that big heavy mom sigh again, and then I did something I don’t often do. I apologized to my four-year-old. I told her she was right. I told her that she should wear her boots. In fact, I praised her for putting together such a nice outfit, and then I asked if I could take her picture because sometimes, mommy needs the reminder to say yes.
A reminder to slow down. To breathe through the relentless requests from toddlers. To listen with intention and to respond with purpose. A reminder because while I always want to be a “yes mom” and a “fun mom” and a “do all the things mom,” I’m also a master of having a million reasons to say no. That doesn’t make me a bad mom. It just makes me a real mom. Real life, guys.
No. Not right now. Maybe later. In a few minutes. Because I’m busy right now. Because I can’t. Because I need to finish the laundry. Because I’m on the phone. Because I don’t have time. Because that doesn’t match. Because you just had breakfast. Because you haven’t cleaned your room yet. Because it’s too cold outside. Because it’s a school night. Because you aren’t old enough. Because I said so.
Sometimes, the answer is no because it needs to be no. Sometimes, the answer is no because it’s backed by a fully logical and reasonable reason like safety, or well-being, or because I’m trying to teach a lesson or prove a point. But I must confess here that sometimes, I really have no clear rationale for saying no, and I’m just too preoccupied with whatever it is I’m doing that I don’t even consider the request.
This morning, my daughter’s persistence overruled my perception. Her stubborn demands of “Why, mom!?” made me realize, “Why not?”
While I won’t always agree or cave from my initial response … today, she won. Today, she reminded me to make sure the battles I’m picking are worth picking. And today, she looks darn good in those boots.