Wrestling the Parrot & Ox

Yes means no. This is one of life’s paradoxes that I stub my toe against again and again. As a people-pleaser with a strong desire to do all the good I can for the world and the people in it along with a curious spirit and adventurous soul, yes is one of my favorite words. Yes means people like me. Yes means opportunities to make a positive difference. Yes means stepping into the unknown and at least getting a good story from the experience, if nothing else. I admire yes so much I even wrote a post about it last week. But sometimes, in my rush to sprinkle yeses all over my days, I forget that each yes is also a no.

We received a call from our foster agency last Thursday. They needed a home for two children, ages two and four. Would we be interested in taking them? It’s a good thing Brian answered the call because despite all our honest, exhaustive pre-licensing conversations about what ages and situations we are well-suited for, my first impulse would have been to say yes. Yes, even though we both that we are not suited for life with two children under the age of five. Yes, even though our heart, our calling if you will, is for sibling groups with older children whose chances of being placed and eventually adopted together are very slim. Yes, even though logically I know that yes would not be best for anyone involved. Yes, because I want to help, I want to love, I want all children of all ages to have safe, happy, supportive families.  But saying yes would have been saying no to honoring what Brian and I know to be true about ourselves and our limits as people and parents. And, because moving a child from one foster home to another can be very traumatic for the child and set them back developmentally by as much as one year per move, saying yes to children that we know will not be a good fit for us is saying no to the children’s right to have a foster family that they can count on to be there for them no matter what.

It is not easy for me to accept limitations or to pause before I say yes and truly think about about the consequences of that word. In some ways, I find it embarrassing to admit that my skills, talents, and abilities are inadequate for some tasks. I often worry that I will miss out or I will fail someone or that people will think less of me for saying no. But last Thursday’s experience was just the most recent reminder that sometimes yes is not the best response. Sometimes no is the way to go. And because no opens up an abundance of doors that yes would have closed, no really means yes.

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