And I don't mean to your children, although that is also sometimes a must. It's just a completely different topic. I mean saying no to everyone else.
Lately it seems that we are reevaluating everything we are involved in and discerning once again whether it's something that is right for our family right now. This is a difficult and humbling process.
Why does it seem that everyone else has more hours in the day than I do? It is so hard to say no when you see others say yes again and again. It's hard to understand how others seem to get so much more done each day. It's even harder to understand and to accept that we all have different limitations and that just because someone else can do it, that doesn't mean I can.
I am usually a "yes" person. I like this about myself. I'm not typically lazy and usually feel capable and confident. I have a whole post titled, "Being A Yes Mom," and while it pertains to trying to say yes more to my children, it's still part of how I see myself. If I'm asked to do something, I will legitimately consider it and do it if I can.
It's much harder for me to say, "I can't." This is humbling and makes me feel inadequate, especially when I have to say no to something that I would really like to do.
Recently, Jason and I decided to take a step back from volunteering for Catholic Engaged Encounter, a ministry that has been a huge part of our first ten years of marriage. This was a very difficult decision. Jason and I both love Engaged Encounter and are proud of the work we've done for them, feeling as though we were able to make a difference in many couples' lives. We have been so blessed and honored to be able to do God's work through that organization. It is a ministry that we have truly cherished and hope to come back to someday when it works better for our family.
So far I've discussed how difficult this is for me. But the title of this post is "Being and Good Mom Means . . . Saying No." So, if this is so hard, why is it important? Why would we step back from something that means so much to us?
First of all, as I've mentioned before, I have a temper. I get cranky. I get tired. I get hormonal. I know there are moms who are more even-tempered and less moody than I am. But for me, I have to make sure that I am not over-committing myself. My children are not signed up for very many activities. For us right now, that works and is a very good thing. My volunteering right now consists of teaching 2nd grade Faith Formation and leading Vacation Bible School in the summer. Right now, that is enough. I would like to do more, but alas, I can't. Not if I want to try and somewhat control my temper, my crankiness and my tiredness. (Unfortunately, there's no controlling the hormones.) Not if I want to put my best foot forward as a mom.
Secondly, I need more time. Of course, there is all the time required for cooking, cleaning, shopping, running errands, laundry, lesson planning, teaching, exercise, etc. But beyond those basic things, I need time to snuggle with my kids on the couch in pajamas. I need time to read them stories and giggle with them. I need time to really listen to them, focusing on what new idea they are trying to communicate. I need time to play games with them. I need time to talk to my husband and to hold his hand. I need time to read my Bible. I need time to write in my blog, which is relaxing and sometimes therapeutic for me. This list may seem very self-involved, talking about all of my needs. But of course, these aren't just my needs. They are the needs of my children and my husband.
This is why it's important to say no. For every activity I say "yes" to, I am essentially saying no to something else. The point is to be very purposeful and intentional in what I am saying yes and no to. When answering with "yes," I must try to understand what will consequently receive the answer "no." I have to say no frequently, so that I can frequently say yes to my kids, to my husband and to my own needs.
PS - All moms are good moms. I am not just saying this as lip service. I BELIEVE it with all of my heart. I fear that my first title for this series, "Being a Good Mom Means . . ." implied that I believe that you are only a good mom if you do it the way I do. Of course this is not so. There are infinite good ways to mother. I believe with all my heart that each mother is given the children God called her to mother and that God gives the specific children to the specific mother with the specific skills needed to mother those children. This series is simply supposed to be a sharing of what I have learned in the past eight years. It is now more appropriately titled, "For Me, Being a Good Mom Means . . ."