There they stood. My three oldest sons. Mouths wide open. As I put a scoop of icing onto each of their tongues. This was their reward for smiling for a family picture without a meltdown.
Yes. I bribe them for things like this. And yes. I am far past the phase of feeling guilty for doing so. So there I stood. Tablespoon in hand.
As the icing dripped from their mouths, they looked up at me giggling and said, “You’re the best mom ever.” Then they looked at each other smiling. They couldn’t believe the reality of the moment. I was having fun too. Until I heard my oldest son continue.
“No, mom. Really you’re the best. I can’t believe you’re letting us eat icing out of a can.”
Suddenly, my stomach dropped. He meant it to be a compliment. And the innocence of his accolade to my amazing mothering skills should’ve made me feel happy too. But instead, I felt a need to step back because I could truly see it in his face. He really thought this was me showing him my love evidenced by his dimples practically jumping off his face.
I couldn’t help but remember what had happened the night before with this same son. I had told him no to something he had wanted to do and he got so upset with me. He couldn’t understand why I would say no to this one request of his. But I stood my ground. And I remained strong. “No, son. You just can’t do it.” And he was angry.
I heard nothing of how great of a mother I was then. “Hmmm.” I thought to myself. “It is really that simple to them? Is love to them so skewed?” The laughing and the giggles as I pondered this question confirmed the answer was yes.
So I thought long and hard the next day about what I wanted my sons to know about my love. Then I wrote this letter to them. And really to myself too.
I want to teach you a lesson about what makes me a good mom. And what makes me a mom just wanting you to smile for a picture, so here goes.
In life, you’re going to hear me say no more than you’re going to hear me say yes. And when you hear that word no, I want you to know it’s another way of me saying, “I love you.”
Yes, I know. It’s doesn’t feel like that. It feels like I’m blocking you from what you care about. But you’re wrong. Because what I’m really doing is blocking something from hurting what I care about. And what I care about is YOU.
So you’re going to hear me say no. A lot. Or at least a lot more than you want me to. And you don’t always have to understand my reasoning. And you don’t always have to understand my ways. I don’t even care that you do.
I just need you to know that most often I am the being a better mother when I give you limits than when I do not. I would not be loving if I did not do so. Sometimes loves says no.
And don’t get me wrong, I will say yes as much as I can. Because I love to make you happy. But me loving you is not always about making you feel happy. So please don’t confuse the two.
And about that icing last night, a good mom may have chosen to say no to you because she cared more about your teeth rotting and obesity and the sugar high that would prevent you from going to sleep easily after eating all of that sugar. That love you thought you tasted, that was bribery.
My actual love for you is so much deeper and sweeter. And don’t you forget it.
Your Mom Who Is Going to Tell You No
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Author Bio: Quinn is a wife, blogger and boymom with a degree in marriage & family therapy. 99% of her time is spent keeping her four boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog called Sanctification and Spitup also found on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Give her a follow today. 💕
4 thoughts on “Dear Child: Here’s the Real Reason You Want Me to Say No to You”
Oh boy do I empathize with that whole family picture thing! Our latest family photo from last summer is up on my Instagram feed and it pretty much sums up the struggle! @at_home_with_kids
Great letter to your boys and a powerful message to make sure we express to our children!
Awww! Thank you! Heading to check you out now!
Thanks for putting in words how I often feel with my kids 😊. But you know what hit me? Isn’t this the kind of love God has for us too? Often enough he has to say no, even when we don’t understand the why. But on the other hand he gives us so much…
O.k. I don’t know about the bribery, I don’t think he has to resort to that… but still.
Amen!! You are so right!!