Years ago I boarded a plane bound for somewhere. The details escape me now, but I have never forgotten the lovely older couple who sat in the two seats next to mine.
When asked what I did for a living, I replied, "I am home with my two little boys. I'm expecting our third in October."
They smiled ethusiastically and told me that they had four children, grown now, who were born within five years. "Best decision we ever made!"
We chatted about parenthood and leaving careers to stay home with children. And then the husband, in his grandfatherly way, leaned over to me and said, "Do you want to know the best piece of advice I can give you? Say yes more than you say no."
He smiled again, large and warm and compelling.
Say yes more than you say no.
I haven't always heeded that kind gentleman's words. I have said no a lot, particularly when I have been tired or not feeling my tip-toppy best. But I can tell you that I never regret saying yes. And the no's - the no's have impact because they are said less than the yeses.
May we play in the mud? Yes.
May we make cookies? Yes.
Can we take a walk after lunch? Yes.
Will you make us popcorn on the stove? Yes.
Christian has been learning to read this year, and if you've ever taught a child to read, you know they get stuck along the way, frustrated and impatient with themselves. He was hard-pressed to read a page from his Pathway Reader without that little almost-whiny catch in his voice.
"Mommy, when I'm done with the page, will you read it back to me?"
His smile erupted and he leaned over into my side, cuddling my arm and squishy 42-year-old body. It was a compelling, contented smile, and it reminded me of that elderly man on the plane so many years before.
Say yes more than you say no. It's totally worth it.