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Culture » Culture Features

Whatever, Mom

Saying "no" to "no"

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The other night, my son asked me if he could ride his bike around in the rain. I followed up my "No" response with a typical list of justification: "It's past your bedtime. And it's too dark out. And it's wet; you might slip and fall and bust your head open. And I have things to do inside." Blah, blah, blah.

Then I stopped myself. Summer bedtimes don't exist. And we have outdoor lighting. And helmets serve a purpose. And I can do those things later... Why should I turn down something so simple for no logical reason whatsoever?

This isn't the first time I've had an epiphany over that two-letter word. It's too easy to say no to a child. It's too easy to choose laziness and selfish reasoning over another hour of Lego building, a second scoop of ice cream or a few extra minutes at the park.

Don't get me wrong; I respect the word no in certain situations. It's not like I'm raising a spoiled, disrespectful heathen, and I do enjoy avoiding emergency rooms. I can also be mean mommy without feeling guilty every time Cade accuses me of not letting him ever do anything (which is at least 12 times a week).

But seriously, how often do we respond to our kids with, "Sure, why not?"

The same goes for ourselves. It's a common misconception that having children means kissing your social life goodbye, giving up on relationships and flushing your personal dreams and career goals down the toilet.

Okay, so maybe I have lost touch with friends, written off my nearly-obtained college degree and pushed back that around-the-world trip.

But shame on me. Child-induced inconveniences don't have to become excuses for saying no. For us parents, life as we know it is anything but over.

Take dating as a single mother, for example.

I'll never forget my first little dose of reality as a newly-single parent. I had moved in to a house (read: shack) with Cade, and had hired a landscaping crew to tame my ridiculously overgrown weed jungle of a yard. Each time they came out, I spoke with the very friendly (and attractive) company owner.

Harmlessly interested, I did what any red-blooded single mom would do; I Googled him. It took a little extra digging, but finally there he was—with a different last name and the words "registered sex offender" next to his mug shot... God bless technology.

Eventually, it took me a few years to squash the giving-up-on-relationships-after-child theory and realize that "having baggage" was just a churlish term for being one hell of a package deal.

But most importantly, it took a wonderful, supportive man to step into the picture—not as some fill-in dad for Cade, but instead as his loving friend and role model. It took watching this man epitomize the utmost respect, patience and understanding. And finally, it took standing in front of this man last week as he kneeled down and further proved his commitment with a beautiful ring and a really important question.

And, I said yes.

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