NO

I have trouble with saying ‘no’ to things. I thought this was something I was good at, but I am not. Not. I think I came to fully realize it a few months ago.

It was football season and there I was, standing in the rain, waiting for all 60 kids to get their pictures taken. It was 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Now, I did not realize what an investment of time football was going to be. But it is time consuming. The only solace I had was that at least I would get to visit with a friend while I waited that Saturday. But she wasn’t there. Her kid must have been sick. Poor guy.

Nolan was last in line. He had been about 10th from last, but goofing around, he lost his place and ended up dead last. It took over an hour. I had to fill out the paperwork, write a check for $19.00, and watch every other person eat the biscuit they picked up from Bojangles on the way, while I sipped my last bit of lukewarm coffee.

I was mad. I did not want to be there. I wanted to sip another cup of hot coffee on the couch. But there I was.

Later that day, I saw my friend who wasn’t there that morning. Oh, she must have forgot. Poor thing. It is hard to keep all those dates straight.

‘How did pictures go?’ she asked.

‘Oh, they were awful, I was in a bad mood the whole time. I hated getting out in the rain this morning good.’ I replied.

‘Yeah, everyone was in their PJs, snuggled on the couch, so we decided to skip them’.

WHAT??? I am going to tell you what. The permission smacked me upside the head like a sledgehammer. You can say ‘no’ to that stuff??? First time football pictures?? I was snuggled on my couch too! I didn’t want to get out either!! I didn’t KNOW you could skip!! I thought we HAD to do that stuff!!

This was one of the most liberating days of momlife. I went home and started to delete things off of my calendar immediately. I found great power in that. I put most of them back on. But I left three things off. My husband literally applauded me. He’s been trying to get me to do this for years. I needed a mother’s permission, you understand. And not my mother. She’s always telling me ‘we just never went anywhere. I was afraid to take you all out when you were that small.’ I needed a now mother to tell me it was ok.

That was several months ago. Since then I have skipped a few things. Like the recent school cookie dough fundraiser. I didn’t do it. Didn’t even try. I still have cookie dough in my freezer from last year’s fundraiser. The thing is, I make really good cookies already. And my workplaces consist of college students (who don’t even have ovens) and children (who are trying to sell cookie dough). So I gave myself permission to skip it and not feel guilty. And I’ll participate in the next fundraiser.

Maybe.

I learned a valuable lesson that Saturday. Thanks, B.L. for showing me that. I am going to more deliberately choose how to spend my time. I do not have to do everything that comes home on a flyer. I don’ t have to attend every birthday party, school event, or celebration. There is value in saying ‘no’.

And saying ‘no’ to some things means ‘yes’ to the things that matter more.

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