My Dream Role: Being the “Yes” Mom

Once upon a time, in a life not so long ago, I got a chance to play the role of a lifetime: the “yes” Mom.

In my normal life, I find myself saying “no” or some variation to my girls a lot. “Not right now,” or “We can talk about it later,” or “Let me finish this email (or blog post!)” or my favorite, “Ask your grandparents for that giant, expensive present you want.” Basically, there are many ways to say no even though I would certainly prefer to give them everything their hearts desire exactly when they want it!

In late February, during Mardi Gras break, my eight year old and I drove to Dallas to meet family, celebrating a milestone birthday for my mom. Little sister stayed home with Daddy because she was sick (was it COVID-19? Probably not). Along with our distant family, my big girl and I enjoyed downtown Dallas, its aquarium, a great park in front of the condo where we stayed, tacos (and margaritas for the grown ups!), and the giant eyeball statue. It was a wonderful last trip before the pandemic.

But it was the add-on I had planned that really let me shine, leaning into the “yes” Mom role. I loved it.

My girl and I checked in and spent one night at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas, which includes an indoor waterpark (no sunscreen worries, no weather worries, no worries at all!). We had an incredible time, and I recommended Great Wolf Lodge to pretty much everyone I knew in the two weeks left pre-pandemic. I still can’t wait until we can go back as a family of four!

I had set myself up for “yes” success by purchasing the pass that allowed for a game of MagiQuest, candy, Build-a-Bear and more. And I went into the trip planning to at least say “yes” more often than I said “no.”

  • Pancakes for lunch while we wait to check in? YES.
  • Spend hours at the indoor water park directing Mama’s every move? YES.
  • A yummy expensive snack poolside? YES.
  • Want Mama to go with you down a scary waterslide? YES.
  • Pizza for dinner while watching TV? YES.
  • Stay up way too late watching the Disney Channel? YES.
  • A cupful of candy before bed? YES.
  • Will Mama trudge up and down stairs with you to figure out the MagiQuest game? YES.
  • Can you have a Build-a-Bear? YES. Do you want a custom leather bracelet, too?! 
  • How about an hour in the arcade that’s so loud it sets Mama’s teeth on edge? YES.
  • Should we check out the outdoor zipline before we drive home? YES.

We missed little sister terribly, and I collected her Build-a-Bear, candy cup and T-shirt from the add-on pass I’d bought for her. If she had been with us as originally planned, I would have absolutely stayed at least one more day, as the hotel wasn’t full. What I really wish I could have done was say “yes” to more time. 

My real, normal Mama self crept back to life, knowing we needed to get on the road for the long drive to get back to Daddy and little sister. I wasn’t able to say yes to getting back into the water on the second day (oh, how I wanted to do the same–the adults-only hot tub was calling my name) or to let her stay on the zipline structure for as long as she wanted. We made a stop at In-N-Out burger (want a milkshake? YES) and headed east.

Here we are in a season–a pandemic summer–where playing the role of “yes” Mom would be so welcome, both for my children and for me. While the reality of living during this time and our commitment to keeping each other safe precludes full-on “yes” Mom mode (no trips to Great Wolf Lodge in our immediate future), I can find ways to catch that spirit while staying mostly at home. 

We’re planning a few days where the girls can have free reign on what to do, and we fully expect it to be heavy on screen time as that’s where I often find myself saying no right now. Disney+ marathons? Let’s do it! Kindle Fire without limits? Enjoy! I know we’ll mix in plenty of crafting, baking and other things that require my focused attention, but the allure of the blue light is where it’s at. 

Limits exist for a reason, and my kids go off the rails with too much screen time, too much sugar, too much anything. But it’s fun, at least for a little bit, to be able to say “yes” in a world that is so much “no” right now. Do you think you’ll try being a “yes” parent with your krewe this summer?

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27 May 2020

By Mari Walker

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