I have a confession to make. I have been saying NO to Heidi a lot lately.
I know that sounds about normal for an almost-three-year-old. But these aren’t NO’s to touching electrical sockets or running in the street or even indulging in a slice of pizza before bed (because let’s be honest, we definitely say yes to that). These NO’s have been, for the most part, unnecessary and fear-driven. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I made the trek up to Noblesville to watch my brother’s band Veseria play at Klipsch Music Center. They were awesome, as always, and we had a great time. At the end of the evening (and by “end” I mean 9pm when we got home…we are completely old and lame), we were beat from the driving and not eating dinner. I ran out to grab a pizza, and when I got back, Heidi was still awake and waiting for me at 9:30 p.m. watching TV with daddy.
So I put the pizza on hold while I went through our bedtime routine. I was relieved when she picked a short book (Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs, one of her favorites) because I was tired and hungry and ready to hightail it out of her room. But as I tucked her in, she asked me, “Mommy, will you tell me Tangled?” That sounds so cute, doesn’t it? Even now, typing it, all I can think is, “I am just kind of a jerk to my kid sometimes.” I gently told her no, and that it was late and we needed to say a prayer and go to sleep. My contacts were sticking, my brain was foggy, and I just wanted to eat and go to bed. She frowned a little, rolled over to face the wall, and said softly, “I want daddy.”
I realize I had every right to tell her no. And I realize her reaction was a bit manipulative (she knows how to make me feel bad). It’s good for her to know she can’t always have every little thing she wants. But I couldn’t shake the feeling last night that I could have said yes here. And it got me thinking.
As I left her room, it hit me that I have been denying her many simple requests lately because I am nervous to bring a baby into the mix in January. I am worried she will hear so many NO’s then (no, honey, I can’t hold you right now, I’m nursing the baby…no, sweetheart, we can’t go for a walk right now, your baby brother/sister is sleeping…no, Heidi, you can’t sit on your baby brother/sister…) that I have been a bit overzealous in preparing her. I have said no to many things I am fully able and capable to do for her; I’ve just denied her those little things because I think I have to in order to prepare her to be a big sister.
In reality, these are my last few months with my oldest baby all to myself (oh that makes me tear up!). I don’t want it to be full of no’s and unnecessary boundaries. Sure, I need to say no sometimes, of course! I’m not saying I need to spoil the daylights out of her. I’m saying maybe I should just indulge her these next few months. Maybe all this talk of a baby and how we won’t be able to do certain things is making her a little bit nervous too. And maybe in asking for one more book, she’s really asking me to reassure her of my love.
We’ve always been the kind of parents to indulge her in certain things other parents may not indulge their own children in. It has always served us well. We let Heidi come in bed with us in the middle of the night for months and months. Now? She hates sleeping in our bed and won’t even do it if she is scared and can’t sleep. She loves her own bed. We let her have midnight snacks from time to time when she can’t sleep. Because we can’t sleep when we’re hungry, why should she be able to? Then she always finishes out the night just fine, belly full and happy, fast asleep.
It should be no different here. I need to remember sometimes she is merely asking for more time with me. When she asked me to tell her Tangled, I know she was not fighting bedtime. She was not being ornery or pushy or whiney. She had a simple request: one more story before she goes to sleep. A story that takes me less than five minutes to tell (I have a long version and a short version, haha). And maybe in these months of saying more yes’s, I will trust that God is fully capable of preparing her and helping her to adjust to being a big sister. I don’t need to step in.
God doesn’t often say no to us….at least not to the big things, like our request for His love. And isn’t that what all our prayers are really about? Lord, please give me a spouse, so I can be loved and I know You love me. Lord, heal my mom so I can have her love longer and so that I know You love me. God, please take this pain away so I know you love me. This broken world may say no to us every single day through tragic accidents, devastating genetic diseases and disorders, unforgiving hearts, evil decisions, and impossible circumstances. But God never says no to our requests for love, comfort and meaning. Even if we don’t get a tangible yes to our question, and we still experience pain and disappointment and death, He never says no to His presence, His reassuring words and his hope.
And isn’t that all Heidi wanted that night? Five extra minutes of her favorite story? Five more minutes cuddled up on mom’s lap? Just to know I still love her, even though everything is about to change?
Lord, have mercy on us. Help us to be yes people in a world of crushing no’s. Help us give you control where we want control most. And help us always say yes to love.
If you asked in the morning to see His power and His glory, and you allowed Him to adjust your spiritual vision, and sought Him with all your heart, then you can be sure He worked in the course of the day. Recount His faithfulness to you. How do you know He will care for you today? Because He cared for you yesterday. And the day before, and the day before.” ~Priscilla Shirer
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.
~Psalm 63, The Message