Today, I’m very pleased to welcome the next of my ‘neighbors’ for Round 3 of Won’t you be my Neighbor, Justine of Here Where I Have Landed.

I am seldom ill, and I think as a result, I don’t do sick very well. While I would love to be pampered and to become one with the couch as the TV sucks me in, having a toddler makes that a little difficult. I am grateful that, at two, she’s old enough to entertain herself for a whole half hour before turning her attention to me, climbing on my lap, asking me for stories or songs, or to just wrapping herself around me like a human tortilla.

But I can’t blame the little one. She’s not why I haven’t recovered after six miserable days of hacking my lungs out. I fell sick over the weekend and refused to cancel all of the plans I made ages ago to stay home and confine myself to chicken soup and hot tea. Instead, I proceeded with my Saturday evening plans – hey, we had a sitter; I couldn’t possibly let that one slip – that went too late into the night (or rather too early into the morning) and the next day, continued with brunch plans with another family. When coordinating with other parents with wee ones, it’s hard enough to find the time to get together, I couldn’t risk a raincheck as I wasn’t sure when our stars would align again.

I work full time and Monday came too quickly as usual, but it didn’t occur to me to take the time off to convalesce. Since I wasn’t sick often, the luxury of paid time off was usually reserved for fun things like vacations with the family, but never really for myself. I commuted to and from work with icicles on my lashes and by that evening, I felt like I was dragged into the fiery furnace of hell and back. That was when I knew I could no longer fight this. Ignoring my ailment, hoping it would go away on its own, was not only a terrible idea, it was also to my own detriment as I plunged deeper into my misery.

What I needed was a day or two with no obligations, household chores, deadlines, errands and responsibilities. The time to heal. And that’s exactly what I didn’t allow myself, (erroneously) thinking that slowing down meant succumbing to my sickness. I didn’t want to be weak that way; I wanted to beat it. I didn’t want to yield. But that would’ve been the best thing I could have done for myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Regina Brett’s Life Lessons lately, ever since my chance encounter with it two weeks ago, and “Yield” was one of the 50 that stood out for me. It’s not something I’m very good at mostly because I’ve always thought that to yield is to surrender. Yet when I really think about it, sometimes it’s more courageous to know when to step away than to battle to the bitter end, only to wind up irreparably wounded, or worse, still be defeated.

To yield suggests the strength to admit defeat for now so you can come back stronger for a surer victory. It humbles us as it makes us realize and accept that we are not infallible, but it allows us a perspective other than the do-or-die kind. That there are alternative paths to our destination, and if there’s a bit of a detour, so what? A scenic route isn’t so bad.

Growing up, I’ve been taught to only strive to be the best, to fight until the end, that winners never quit – these words that influenced me only encouraged my self-defeating behavior, like always wanting to be right or never knowing when to stop. It’s exhausting. Knowing the pressure I face with my own inability to yield, I couldn’t possibly teach that to my own daughter. I need her to know that it’s OK to step down or aside sometimes, to apologize when we’re sorry, to take a step back one day only to gather the courage and strength to move five paces ahead the next. That stepping back doesn’t mean we’re not moving forward.

But these are lessons I struggle with myself. Every day. For now, there is tea and honey to be had and a warm bed calling my name. If I am to learn how to yield, perhaps it’s prudent that I pay them heed and head their way so I can finally get better.

And live to write another day.

Please leave Justine comments below and visit her again at Here Where I Have Landed. If you have a guest ‘neighbor’ posting on your blog today, please use the button to your right and link up below!

30 thoughts on “Yield

  1. I’m with you, Justine. It’s hard to yield. But having your second child really encourages you to do so, and while it seems to take forever, there is a nice release when it does. And then you hear from other great women who talk about the dirt under their own couches, and you feel so much better. That connection to friends and abandon is better than having a clean bathroom. (Maybe. I don’t really know what a clean bathroom feels like.)

  2. Oh honey, as happy as I am to “see” you hear (I love these blogging circles we weave), I’m sad to see you’ve been unwell. Never fun, never easy, but even more challenging with a little one, a full time job and a pregnancy! I think you know that I have an intimate relationship with the concept of yield. I fought it for a very long time. And then we I finally did, even in little ways, it was like the grey skies parted and my life was filled with a sea of blue. It’s important to recognize that sometimes when you think you are doing it all you are really doing nothing at all.

    Hugs to you. xo

    • I love this: “It’s important to recognize that sometimes when you think you are doing it all you are really doing nothing at all.” As usual, your insights always hit me in the gut, and what you say is absolutely true. It just took me a long time to shed the false and debilitating messages I grew up with and to learn to let go. But now that I am open to it, I do feel somewhat liberated – just not quite there in perfecting this concept of yielding. At least I’m trying though 🙂

      And hugs right back to you!

  3. My aunt always told me that running on empty won’t get you anywhere. She used to be just a batty old lady we rolled our eyes at, but you know what, she was dead right about that. Sometimes you have to take the time to refuel and recharge so you can get back ato it. I clicked over to your Life Lessons post and want to print them out or myself now.

    • Denise, thank you for the comment. I love that you had a batty old lady aunt – we all need those in our lives, if not for wisdom then at least for comic effect – and I must say I agree with her. Of course it took me awhile to realize this. As for the Life Lessons, I kid you not, it fell on me just when I needed it the most, and I feel like it saved me from myself. I’m glad you see value in it too. So happy to “meet you” here at Amy’s place!

  4. Amy, thank you for hosting my words here. I actually discovered your blog and many others I still read now through “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” so you can’t imagine how honored I am to be your guest today. Also, I’m happy to help keep this wonderful series going!

  5. I relate to this post so much, I could have written it, which I guess is fitting since you’re guest posting on my blog! I am ALWAYS that way when I’m sick, and no one in my family appreciates it! Thank you for being here today, Justine!

    • Amy, let’s make a pact: The next time we’re sick, we plant our behinds firmly on the couch and expect our kids/partner to wait on us hand and foot. Then we write about THAT experience and exchange notes! 🙂

  6. Justine, I used to do just as you do. Run. Run. Run. Keep going. And then my crash and burn would leave me in smoky flames. I’ve finally started to yield (love this word choice) and hope you continue to find a pace that works for you.

    • Hi Denise, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I like that you said you “used to” be this way, which means it’s not too late for us who want to change that. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. What a wonderful–and wonderfully well-written–post! You’ve given me a lot to think about. Yielding really does require more strength than battling at times, like in silly fights with a loved one (when backing down is the hardest but best thing to do), or waiting patiently in a long line instead of battling the ‘wasted time’ internally.

    • Jenna, it wasn’t until recently that I truly learned the value of yielding ESPECIALLY in a fight with a loved one. My inability to stand down has gotten me into really stupid situations and I think that’s when I realized, enough is enough. Being right isn’t might; being open is more important in the progression of a conversation. Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Learning to yield has been something forced upon me. I have a run of bad babysitters and without them, I simply cannot do it all. And what I’ve learned is that it’s okay. It’s okay if we have cereal for dinner one night. It’s okay if the boys miss boy scouts or soccer or lacrosse practice one week. The world doesn’t crumble and the kids are just fine.

    Sorry to hear that you are sick. I’m on day two on the couch, working from home. Fortunately I’m well past the toddler years but I do remember them well. Rest up and get well soon. Nice to see you over here!

    • Cathy, so glad to see you here too! And I’m pleased to know that I’m in good company. I have fed my daughter cereal for dinner and we have made her miss school to pursue other interests (ok, fine she’s only in preschool, not a big deal really). But you’re right? They’ll be just fine. They’re definitely more resilient than we give them credit for.

      Hope you feel better soon as well. Enjoy the weekend – as long as you don’t overdo it like I did 😉

  9. Hey Justine, I followed you over here to Amy’s portal. I’ve come to respect the merits of yielding. Even the word surrender is showing some promise. To accept that sometimes, there are forces larger than I can fathom can feel surprisingly liberating. So I step aside to let it pass, but only if it feels more right than wrong. It can mean the difference between being/feeling stuck and moving on. At least to me.

  10. yield is a fantastic word and this was a thoughtful post. I find it hard to yield on anything…a failing of mine and yet, a blessing sometimes, too. I’m going to turn this word over in my head a few times this weekend, thanks to this post, and figure out if I can set some healthy boundaries on when to yield.

    loved it.

    • Hi Gigi – hope this was successful weekend for you as far as setting boundaries to yield is concerned. I wish it came second nature to me, but at least we’re all trying right? Have a great Valentine’s Day!

  11. Justine, I’m so sorry that you’ve been so sick! (And here you are writing so eloquently one could never tell.) I’m so glad that this bad cold has been a wake-up call though. I think that reluctance/refusal to yield is even worse once we become mothers, and we really do feel more responsible for keeping things running 24/7. I’ve learned the hard way to simply surrender when necessary. A few years ago when my son was 2 I was hacking away for a month, but I kept on working, even took on a new work project and went shopping for souvenirs to prepare for a big trip home. I was miserable but acted like everything was normal. It wasn’t until the coughing got unbearable 5 weeks later that I went to get checked, and learned from an x-ray that I had had pneumonia!! I think that was my wake-up call. I realized that it’s better to be out for 2 days and then be 100% to my family than to be continuously present at 50% and then eventually getting down to zero. It’ll take a while to embrace this, but I think you’ll get there. Learning to take care of ourselves seems to be the hardest lesson as mothers in those first few years. Hope you feel better!

  12. I love this. Amy – thank you for bringing us Justine’s wonderful words! And Justine, thanks for those words!

    Why is it so hard for so many of us to yield, to surrender, to stop? Sure, we have things to do and tasks to tend to, but when did our own health and sense of well-being cease to rank high in importance? I have such a hard time turning it all off, climbing into bed, and allowing my body to heal. I always drag my computer into bed with me, or say I will just read a book. The end result is that I rarely rest which is no good.

    Thank you for making me think. What is this inability to yield all about? Is it a predominantly female thing? A parental thing? A human thing? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to.

    Great post.

    • Hi Aidan – thank you for stopping by. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s a mom thing, or if some of us are just wired a certain way. I know I sacrifice sleep too easily to have the extra time to get all the things I need done, except you’re right, it’s no good. In fact, sleep deprivation does not help me be more productive the next day nor does it help me be the best mom I can be, so why is it that I keep falling into this cycle?

      I hope we both figure it out – for our sake and our family’s. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day with your family.

  13. Oh, man. I know this. When I was sick a few weeks back, I stayed home from work but couldn’t bring myself to take Jack to my mother’s for her workday! Somehow, it seemed possible to spend a day getting well and a day catching up on Jack time that I’d otherwise be missing while at work. Instead, I didn’t get the rest I needed and he got way more TV time than he needed. The next day I did it again, and even painted a little! What is with the self-pressure?

    • Leslie, you and I may be cut from the same cloth (or however that saying goes, forgive me) because My Guy has to force me to take time off for myself and drop off my daughter in preschool so I can heal. If left to my own devices, I would’ve had her home with me and that’s never the best solution for getting well, especially since she’s so full of energy. On the one hand, I just want to steal whatever extra time I get to spend at home with her, but I really should know better. That time will cost me my health and I’ll only end up being half a mommy to her when I could be rejuvenated and we can enjoy each other so much more that way.

  14. Man oh man, I’ve been where you are. In fact, my stubborn refusal to yield (or to visit a doctor) left me sick for the entire month of January. But, yes, a lesson has been learned. #1 – We have to take better care of ourselves. #2 – The only person who’ll judge us for slowing down is us.

  15. Sometimes I yield, and sometimes I just get out of the proverbial car for awhile. Never as often as I need to, of course. There’s always somewhere else to go and not enough time to get there.

  16. I have trouble yielding as well. I am a restless spirit even when I am sick. I believe if I keep moving progress will be made. But sometimes progress comes from the quiet moments when I do really choose to yield. It doesn’t happen often, but I am making a concerted effort to give it my best.

  17. Justin, this is once again nicely done! Having kids really teaches you the importance of being able to let go, but of course also the difficulty of coming face to face with what you are made of. We are all too human and that’s what makes us all so beautiful. 🙂

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