Monday, July 6, 2009

Saying YES to Life

Say YES to life (and even though I am tempted to say the universe and everything---that's not what I mean.)
Saying "YES" more......
an unschooling concept deceptive in it's simplicity. It doesn't mean say YES to everything all the time. It also doesn't mean be irritated with your kids for asking permission because, after all, aren't they suppose to be free to make their own decisions. It doesn't mean you have to say yes and feel like a martyr.
Saying YES has become increasingly challenging for me. I don't have resistance saying yes to more cherries, another Popsicle, a trip to the park.
Can I use the camera?
Let's watch Mork and Mindy.
Can we go to the pool? Well....actually I did rail against this request early in the summer when the temperature had not yet reached the necessary 80's for me to enjoy being sopping wet. I did not want to go and the more I thought about it the more I was mad that I "had to go". Then as I was grumbling about not wanting to go, Xander and XuMei said, "you don't have to go Mom."
And all my pissed off resentment melted away and I felt free and light as I walked up to the counter and said "2 kids and one adult".
Saying yes----not HAVING to say yes-- wanting to say yes.
SO this brings me to the things Chris and I have been saying No to.
Can we get chickens?
Can we get a dog?
No and NO.
It's complicated. My Mom lives with us and is in the last stages of her life. Hospice helps tremendously. But the emotional work of helping a loved one die is ours. And really we are not helping her die-- I am standing on the side of the living helping her live as fully and richly as she is able. It is the greatest privilege second only to welcoming new life.
As I wrap my head around this process I hold my breath waiting, wondering when it will happen, when will she pass? Will I have any warning? Who will find her? Can I really go on living around her? How to squeeze every moment out of the time we have left without seeming to be saying "good bye" every time I leave her presence.
So I keep saying no to bringing more living creatures into our family because it just feels like more work.
More food, more clean up, more stress, more worry, more expense, more more more......
more laughter, more fun, more smiles, more learning, more love.
More life.
All this time I have been saying no to life.
No more life! Dammit! We are trying to die here! We are trying to not be stressed and not be messy and die.
I am not saying that we should bring into our family indiscriminately any scruffy mutt, or squawking meat ball with legs that happens our way----but I am making strides toward expanding our brood. I am reading books, web sites, asking people about their experience, and softening my heart to the idea of a dog.
I am a quintessential cat lady. So a dog is a big stretch for me. And ultimately, like a lot of things about parenting, a tremendously healing stretch for me. I used to be afraid of dogs. I have learned that my fear is not of the dogs but of the owners.
And I don't HAVE to get a dog. I am making a choice. I am choosing to say YES...
to life!

To us and our good fortune!
Be happy, be healthy, long life!
And if our good fortune never comes,
Here's to whatever comes,
Drink la kayim, to life!
~~~Fiddler On the Roof

or this one from Diana:


Sandra Dodd said...

I think if "dog and chickens" isn't a "yes" in your soul yet, waiting would work out fine.

If "have a dog" sounds like a big NO in your soul, to your question "Could we not have a dog?" then it's not time yet.

Don't drag yourself kicking and screaming toward yes.

I can't help but think that dogs and chickens are not always a good combination. Just another thought for your swirling storm of thoughts.

hahamommy said...

For all that has come to pass, I say Thank You; For all that is about to be, I say YES! :D

And don't forget my dream dog:

bright said...

my love to you and your mom.


(also sandra's dog + chicken = ???? sounds very wise to me.)

bioluminescence said...

HI! I saw yr post on an unschooling board. I wanted to say, bless you, I provided hospice care for my mom during my girl's entire babyhood...asked on the boards if anyone else was a family caregiver...and most people don't attempt to both at one time.

PLEASE read The Dog Whisperer's book about a new dog in a family with kids before getting a dog.
I reluctantly adopted my Grandpa's dog when he went into assisted living. We are fond of the dog, but HATE walking him most of the time. We don't have a yard, but he needs to walk before pooping anyway. Taking him out at in a kind time frame is the number one source of conflict between me and my toddler daughter. She LOVES the dog, but after hours of trying to get out the door, I often have to carry her out crying because it would be cruel to make him wait any longer. We have to cut short fun outings to walk him too. The night walk has greatly reduced the amount of time my husband and I have together after kiddo falls asleep.

We have unschooling friends with little dogs and a big yard. I suspect they don't walk them, or maybe once a day. These dogs have so much nervous energy that they bark at and jump all over guests. Then they end up in a crate whenever people are over. The mom is so uncomfortable with being an unschooler keeping her dogs in a cage that when my daughter says "cage" she says, "We call it a little house!"

Sorry to be a wet blanket. I don't want you to end up choosing whether to neglect your kids or dog.

Madeline Rains said...

I was googling "yes" and "Sandra Dodd", to find a quote of her's that I love and I am so glad that it led me here. your post has helped me to formulate something I want to say in a talk I'm giving. Thanks!

About the dog - I said yes to a dog when mine were very little and the dog absolutely did not get enough of my attention. But they did get a lot from having her around and now she gets long walks and lots of love. With the situation with your mother, it could be challenging but conceivable. Listen to your gut. I'm sure you've already made this decision my now. : )

Heidi Snavley said...

OR................maybe you can't say yes to HAVING a dog but maybe you can say yes to volunteering at a shelter or a puppy sitting, dog walking, etc. The possiblities are endless. We've even fostered animals for a short time before we were able to make informed decisions. We fostered a bird for a while because we weren't sure we were able to take care of a parrot and we ended up adopting him.