The Hardening

no-free-ecard
I searched for “No” under open creative commons and this cute raccoon popped up. Thanks, random raccoon!

I’m a former improv disciple.

A failed one, but a disciple nonetheless.

Improv teaches you to put yourself out there. To be confident the universe will catch you.

I’ve lived with this philosophy in my back pocket for most of my adult life and it’s served me well.

As a former improv student, I lived by the mantra of “yes…and?”

But as a current parent to young children, I’m living by the mantra of, “NO….AND, NO.”

“NO.”

“NO.”

And also, “NOOOOOOOOOO. OH MY GOD. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU ?NOOOOOOOOO.”

You can’t “yes…and?” the raising of your children. (I mean, I guess you can, but your children will probably become feral, mud-covered nocturnal animals who eat out of the dog bowl and wear construction paper for clothing.)

I believe that children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent. They grow and flourish knowing their (very firm) parameters. For me, constantly saying no means chaos is diminished. It means sanity. It means I get to keep my job and social services won’t take away my children.

I believe my children grow by me saying no.

But in saying no, I shrink.

So, fellow parent, this is my worry: If I spend years saying no and being closed off purely because of self-preservation, when does it stop being the exception and starts being the norm?

I worry because I firmly believe this is the age (mid-to-late 30s), where certain traits begin to calcify. When mannerisms and quirks become more pronounced. And can take over. This is good in some points (I’ve become much neater and better about paying bills!). But not good in some others (I’m a complete and utter shut-in who refuses to take on new experiences because of fear of exhaustion.)

So, if I keep saying no now, what happens to older me? Won’t she just get used to saying “no”?

That isn’t the older person I want to be.

I want to be open and kind. Available. Flexible. But, most importantly, open.

I want to make that happen.

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