Early on in childhood we are taught to say no. Say no to strangers, say no to drugs, say no to peer pressure. Even as parents we drill the same skill into our own little people. We stress to them the importance of using the word when something doesn’t seem right. That it is okay to give their friends a nice firm NO when they are being pressured to do things that they know are wrong. To say NO if they don’t want to do something. Makes you wonder why after all the years of being told to say it we confidence, we seem to forget how to use it with other adults.
Most of us have no problem saying it to our kids:
Mom, can I have a cell phone? No, you are ten.
Mom, can I have candy? No. I ate it all.
Mom, do you love me more than the others? No. I love you all equally, just some days I may like one of you more than the others.
Mom, do you have a wiener? Thankfully, no. If I did you wouldn’t be calling me mom.
Smell my feet mom! Not just no, but HELL NO.
Did you fart mom? Nope. Not me. I would never do that. <ahem>
We often forget when approached by adults that the word NO is part of our vocabulary. Why do we have such a hard time saying that one little word to other adults, are we afraid of looking like we can’t handle it? Scared that we will be considered less of a woman/man/parent if we just say we can’t do it right now? Maybe it’s a little bit of mom guilt mixed in with that middle school mindset that we won’t be accepted if we don’t agree with every offer that is thrown our way.
This is extra difficult when the offers involve our kids. Sitting on the PTA board or coaching a ball team, going on that field trip or making those cookies for the program. Saying no to one more project or volunteer opportunity is more difficult for some of us than getting a toddler to put on pants. We are always willing to adjust our schedules to do what needs to be done, because we all know that if we don’t do it those kids will only be able to have one cookie for a snack instead of two. We forget that in most instances that one little word could alleviate so much stress from our lives if we would just use it. Just once it would keep us from trying to squeeze in one more meeting in an already over-packed day, or stop us from making just one more trip to the store for supplies. It may even give us an evening to reconnect with our already over-scheduled families.
Maybe it is some minute part of our human nature that holds this desire to constantly please others, including the overwhelming feeling of letting someone down. What happens when we become so overwhelmed that we forget to make those cookies or that meeting slips our mind? Disappointment and guilt, that’s what happens. Then we sit in the soup of despair and shitty feelings kicking ourselves in the ass for not being organized enough to just write something down. For forgetting that we received that reminder call three days ago while we were juggling fixing lunch, folding that load of laundry, and wiping the three-year-old’s butt. It is hard to believe that we, the uber-involved and incredibly organized, could possibly forget one little thing.
Here’s the deal, we ARE over-scheduled. We do strive for the acceptance of our peers, even as adults. We always want to appear as if we have it all together, even though we know in our hearts that we are falling apart and will be hopping aboard the crazy train any day now. In all reality, no one really gives a shit if you say “no sorry, I just can’t make it to that meeting. I haven’t had dinner with my kids all week and I promised them that tonight was the night.”, so just say it.
The key is to find our balance. To find what is truly important to YOU. You want that open seat on the non-profit? Grab it. You want to be the room mother for your kid(s)? DO IT. You want to run a bakery from your kitchen? Good for you. Do you have to do it all ? No way. Find your passion and do that. You aren’t telling the others to piss off, you are just saying that you want to be able to be fully invested in what you are doing. There is only so much room on our plates and in this busy world we seem to have created we no longer have full-sized dinner plates, they are more like snack plates. To be truly involved with your whole self may take a little more effort but the rewards are ten-times greater than only being involved with just a piece of yourself.
We can no longer look at ‘no’ as a word worthy of being placed on George Carlin’s list of dirty words. We can’t be afraid to say it to our kids, we know they aren’t afraid to say it to us. We can’t avoid it because we are afraid of not being accepted into the cool kids club. If that club looks at you differently because you have priorities and can make a decision based on what is best for you, then maybe it isn’t as cool as you thought it was. There comes a time where that one little word can make the difference between spending time with the family that we love and adore or spending it doing something that makes us miserable. The choice is ours.
Did you buy the book yet? PLEASE don’t tell me NO. Get all the details right here.