I have zillions of lady heroes. You know the type, strong females who don’t let people push them around and make their voice heard even if it means people will think they’re shrill, high maintenance women. Most of them are actresses which I know seems super shallow but they’re all women who are well-known not just for the roles they play in movies or TV but for the roles they play as women contributing to the tribe of other women.
One of my favorite lady heroes is Amy Poehler. I know, right? Obviously. Not only did she kick some serious butt during her SNL days but she’s a successful producer, writer, director, and last but certainly not least a mama to two little boys.
The instant her book, Yes Please came out, I downloaded it on audible and listened to it every chance I got. Like Tina Fey before her, I couldn’t wait to hear what amazing words of wisdom she had to impart on a lowly, not even remotely famous, stay-at-home-mom like myself. Surely there would be something in her stories of her rise to fame and international recognition that would ring true in my mundane life, right? It wasn’t all going to be about how she basically took over the world and became extra super awesome. And man oh man, I wasn’t disappointed.
I listened to her book on long runs while training for my first half marathon. It was motivation for me to be able to look forward to the dreadful long runs because I got to hear Amy’s voice in my ear with each painful step. Weird, right? There would be times while I ran that I would literally laugh out loud at something she said or a story she told – it was the perfect running companion.
My favorite part of the whole book was how the title came about. Yes Please is essentially her life story where she chronicles pretty much every moment of her career but she dedicates an entire passage to how she came up with the title.
“It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please. I love saying “yes” and I love saying “please.” Saying “yes” doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no, and saying “please” doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission. “Yes please” sounds powerful and concise. It’s a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman. It’s also a title I can tell my kids. I like when they say “Yes please” because most people are rude and nice manners are the secret keys to the universe.”
Every single word of that quote is like a blinking red sign of awesome in my head. When I get frustrated or start feeling shut down by people around me, I basically recite it as a mantra. Yes Please. It’s so simple and so profound at the same time.
I find myself saying NO pretty much all day long and it’s exhausting. I say no to about 90% of the questions my kids ask me. Can I have a snack? No. Can I get out the play dough? No. Can I have iPad time? No. Can we go for a bike ride? No, not right now. It often feels like NO is the running theme in our house and I’m sort of tired of it. I grew up being told NO and in hindsight, it was actually quite damaging. No, you can’t eat that. No you can’t do that. No you can’t wear that. I’m not saying my upbringing was oppressive but I am saying that hearing NO all the time time makes for a pretty guarded adulthood. If I did something that I was told not to do as a child or teenager, I felt guilty and sorry about it and as Amy says, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.”
Do my kids really need to be sorry for expressing themselves in any way? Do I want to teach them that NO is what drives our home or that they need to hear it over and over again? I certainly do not! Don’t get me wrong, NO is a very important word and action. In our house, setting rules and enforcing them is the key to my sanity but I’m learning that I need to let go of some of the NO.
This summer, I’m going to give YES a shot because in my personal life lately, saying yes has only helped me. It’s pushed me beyond my comfort zone and helped me strive to do things I have never done. YES has landed me some killer friendships and gotten me out of some bad ones. YES has helped me set goals and attain them. If YES works so well for me, why can’t it work for my kids? I need to teach them that saying YES is hard but often the best thing you can do.
“The “yes” comes from my improvisational days and the opportunity that comes with youth, and the “please” comes from the wisdom of knowing that agreeing to do something usually means you aren’t doing it alone.”
My favorite part of the above quote is “agreeing to do something usually means you aren’t doing it alone.” Oh how much I love it! We are not alone. We are in this crazy world of motherhood together and we need to rely on each other and support each other. I am absolutely nobody without my tribe – without the women who enhance my personality. I am nobody without my mother who taught me how to be strong and happy. I am nobody without my friends who help me out in a pinch and listen to me complain endlessly about how long this whole med school/residency/fellowship life is. I am nobody without my lady heroes both in the entertainment world and the real world. The idea that I am not alone almost always gets me through the hard days.
Today I’m saying yes to fruit snacks before dinner and yes to play dough even though I just cleaned the house. I’m saying yes to bike rides and tugs on my shirt when I’m busy and I’m saying please to myself so I remember that I’m not in this alone.
I’ve been struggling in motherhood lately. I’m not sure if it’s the end of the school year and the idea that they are going to be with me every moment of every day for the next 3 months or the fact that I’m exhausted and hot and off sugar for the next 15 days. I have found it difficult to laugh and have fun with them. Instead, I find myself yelling and being grumpy all day. I have absolutely no reason to be that way, I just am and I can’t quiet that voice in my head that tells me to say NO and be mean. My 6 year old shot me back to reality last night in her own little way – we have been immersed in pending “Inside Out” bliss since Saturday. My kids absolutely cannot wait for that movie to come out and are basically counting down the seconds till Friday at 11 AM when we’re going to see it. She said to me, “mommy, of all my emotions I like joy the best because it makes you smile and when you smile, I know everything is good.”
Zing. How does she do that???
And wouldn’t you know it? Amy Poehler herself voices the character of Joy. It’s a sign I tell ya. A stone cold, punch in the face that it’s time to stop saying NO and start saying YES PLEASE!
P.S. For those of you following along with the Whole30, I’ll be adding a copy of Yes Please to the giveaway. That’s reason enough to stick to it.