27 August 2007

Woman to Woman: Learning to say no"

A lot of women feel like they have to "do it all", regardless of what may be realistic for them. Do you fall into this category? Can you just not resist the urge to be involved in everything? Or have you learned to say no? Have you taken a step backward and seen positive results? Share your frustrations or share your advice... Tell us what you think about the current trend to be all things to all people.


I know so many women, myself included, that are afraid to say no. I have my limitations, but I definitely fall into this category, and in some arenas more than others. When the volunteer forms get passed around at the beginning of the school year, for instance, I begin trying to finagle a way around the fact that I have 2 babies at home. And I feel defeated and like a slacker mom when I realize I can't make it happen without incurring a rather large babysitting bill. All because it's not my face behind the counter at the Book Fair that my daughter sees! It's ridiculous now that I am actually typing it out. I know that I have years ahead of me to do these kinds of things, but I can't seem to shake that feeling that I am missing out on something big by not being there in the center of it all.

I attribute these obligatory feelings to my ever bustling mother, who was on the PTA, headed the neighborhhood carnival and Halloween festival, handmade many of my clothes, performed with a Hawaiian entertainment group, served as a youth group leader and was my room mother nearly every year. Yeah she was the woman everyone loved to hate... cape securely fastened at all times. I feel drawn to this crazy busy lifestyle because I grew up in it! But I remember eating dinner in the car more than I remember tender moments at home as a family. So in the past year my life has slowed down significantly. I taught private violin/viola lessons for years and have stopped. I've stopped volunteering to host all the baby showers for my friends. I haven't designed a wedding reception in over a year. I have realized how much happier I and my family are when I am able to sit down and just breathe. Just be with them. I've called it surrendering to motherhood, but really it's just accepting my capabilities and the needs of my family. I want my children to remember their time with me more than any of my grand contributions. And I want them to learn the importance of balance in their lives. Time management and prioritization are not skills that are taught in school; they are exemplified at home. "Do not run faster than ye have strength" has a particular resonance when I think of this important lesson.
I'd also like to add here (and this is a *bit* of an aside) that there are low energy people and there are high energy people. We must not feel like our level of activity or involvement or amount that we give "qualifies" us. Morning Glory points out in her post, that just because some people don't speak up or jump at opportunities to lead or serve doesn't mean they don't want to or are not capable of it. President Spencer W. Kimball of the LDS Church said, "We must lay upon the alter of sacrifice that which is required of love." Well, that is different for each of us. We mustn't doubt our offerings. The Lord knows what we have to give; we don't have to merit it. It is the adversary that tells us we aren't good enough, we don't do enough, etc., etc.

I believe there is a time and season for everything; that I can have it all, just not at the same time. I am committed to my decision to be a mother. And I haven't surrendered my happiness... I still accept the occasional gig around town. I'll teach a random art or design class here and there. I serve callings in church. I offer to bring my best dish to the baby showers rather than host them. And it may be a few years before I am on the PTA, but I bring my violin to the school every year for the Christmas parties and I serenade the children. It's fulfilling, and it's just enough.

Thank you for joining us today! Please take some time to visit my co-host, Morning Glory.

19 comments:

Jenn said...

I have a tendency to think that I must accomplish all that I want to in my life--right now. Often, I have to remind myself to just slow down and enjoy that I am the parent of small children. I have a long life ahead of me and the other things will come. I live my best life when I live it slowly and aware of my children and all that I am doing. Often that means that I'm not doing as much as I would like.

At the beginning of this year, our second son was born 17 weeks early. Our lives screeched to a halt and for months I was forced to only accept help--and hardly ever give it. It made me crazy for a while, until I was able to find a new way to serve--totally under the radar--and totally at the pace I could handle.

I wasn't volunteering to watch my friends' kids, but I could make them some cookies when I had the chance. I couldn't plan and be at every Young Women event, but I could be totally present at the activities I was able to attend and show the girls that I love them still.

Now that things are finally getting back to a realistic pace for our family, I find that I am much more realistic in my expectations of what I can actually handle--and much happier as a result.

Amy said...

mine's up. This was neat to think about!! thanks for letting me join. I'm hoping this will get me fired up about blogging.

Jen said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I also quit teaching music from home, even though it's not a lot of hours, it can be a huge drain on time & energy, and trying to get out is a big opportunity to practice saying no, because student's parents get really upset when you quit...

ellen b said...

sounds like we're on the same page with some of our thoughts here.
Blessings.

Morning Glory said...

Oh what a perfect post. Your thoughts are so well-expressed and I found myself looking for more when I got to the end.

Sometimes I think how fun it would be to have you as a daughter. We'd have the best conversations!

mumple said...

Beautifully said!

Tigersue said...

I am still trying to learn what it is that I am okay saying yes too. I have found over the past few years I have even let go of things that I love and need to thrive.

Lauri said...

For some reason, I've never had a problem saying no...I think that comes from my dad, because my mom sounds exactly like yours! But, I do like and want to give back, and I do what I want to do...which makes it better for me and for the kids (or whoever) are the recipients of it. Because it's what I want to do.

I also know that I get overwhelmed easily, and volunteering for too many things is going to be too overwhelming, and that's going to be very bad for everyone.

And, like everyone told me...don't feel guilty about not being able to help out at school much because of your younger kids at home. One day, all of your kids will be in school and your time will come, and someone else will be sitting home with their babies. So enjoy that now, while you can!

Lisa said...

I have simplified a lot in the last few years-just having a calling and trying to manage my family's busy schedule is enough. I, too, want to have down time with the kids, and I have finally found that-I had to quit my job, but that was a good thing!

Dee Light said...

I love that you realize there is a time and place for every thing and right now your place is being a Mom.

Your daughter will remember the fact that you were home and available to her, more than you being at the book fair!!!

It sound like you have made great choices for your self and family!!!

Yvonne said...

You seem to have your priorities right where they need to be. What a wonderful thing to recognize.

Thank you for having this topic--everyone's thoughts have been wonderful to read.

Lisa said...

Surrendering to happiness sounds divine! :o)

Gina said...

Incredible and insightful post. You are very wise. And your family is oh so lucky to have you!!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

And eventually, everything comes back to the standard 'Time And Season' talk because it's just so true.

Due to lack of money, we're homebound way more than in the past.....and it doesn't feel like such a bad thing at all.

Crystal said...

You are right - you need to be with your little ones at home right now. There will be years later on when you can do those other things. One of the things I struggled with was giving the older kids some one on one time with me, instead of including the little ones all the time. Our oldest always went to hockey with his Dad so they had that alone time (sometimes too much when you are the coach's son on the way home from a poorly played game!) which many fathers and sons don't get.

I've taken a leave of absence from my teaching job this year - kind of saying no to work right now and spending time with DH figuring out where we want to spend our time and energy now that our kids are grown. It's good to be slowed down!

Montserrat said...

I have a hard time saying no to certain things - especially when it's something I enjoy doing in the first place. But I am learning that even those fun things need to a have a limit. Which is why I didn't write a post for this. There is just too much going on right now I didn't want to add more to it and increase my stress level. I enjoyed reading your post.

Gabriela said...

Beautiful Lei. Well said.

I am slowly getting better at saying, "nope, not now. My kids are more important than XYZ."

I try to help out at school where it will be the most beneficial for my children (reading in their classes as oppsed to planning a party).

It's always a challenge to balance.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I have definitely learned to say no well, but now I need to learn how to not make myself feel guilty for saying no. Balance in life is essential. I am trying to find the perfect way of keeping things simple, but still finding valuable ways to serve others.

Angela said...

What a wonderful post on this week's topic. You have insights are filled with much wisdom for a lady of your age. :) I love to read all of your posts. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Sorry for the delay in getting my post up.

Have a great and wonderful new week!