Just Say No


Truly, I'm not prone to histrionics, so take me at my word when I say that yesterday made me feel as if I was a priority to no one. Part of the problem is the overstretched, overwhelmed state that seems like the modern motherhood status quo; the other (related) part involves my rampant yes tendencies, even in the face of absurd requests. Read on to find out how I unraveled (and then, lest you think this is pure rant, I’ll provide a resource to consider if you feel similarly overwhelmed, overbooked, and overlooked):
I feel grateful every day for having left my academic career in favor of happier, independent pastures, but negotiating several professional ventures (while not engaging full-time child care) leaves me quantitatively short on work hours pretty much constantly. To make matters worse, this week, I lost one of Laurel's few child care covered days because her school is closed. Then I found out that Jon has Monday off for the holiday (elation!), but that he was planning on using that day to prepare for his new professional shift next week (deflation! ... I feigned supportiveness since rationally, I understood the decision and need). Then yesterday, my mom called and – in a matter of minutes – asked me if I was busy (my response could not have been more clear), canceled out on her Laurel time this week (today; it's nap time right now...), then informed me that a series of PDFs would be landing in my inbox in minutes, and that she needed me to print them for her to pick up (she instructed someone to email them to me since she didn't know what PDFs were or how to open them). My work hours were fast evaporating, I felt double blindsided by my mom, and on top of all of this, a growing mountain of necessary, time sucking and time sensitive household errands loomed; all for which I had assumed sole responsibility. I was angry and sad and in tears all day. Somehow I was managing to say yes to everything and everyone except myself.

Ironically enough, I’ve been meaning to post a contribution this week from Dr. Susan Newman about HOW TO SAY NO. Dr. Newman wrote in after getting word of our post on her Parenting an Only Child book. Newman also is the author of The Book of No, a book that I clearly need to go order, stat. In the meantime, she shares some basics stepping stones to flexing your NO muscles (click here for a PDF of her article). Dr. Newman also kindly is offering a free copy of her book to a lucky reader; just subscribe to our newsletter by tomorrow, Aug. 31, for details on how to win. If you live in anything remotely like my yes reality, you will need it, or end up in the sorry state that was my yesterday.

I'm feeling somewhat better today, as Auntie Sha-Sha is coming to hang with Laurel tomorrow morning and Jon finally managed to pull all of the details of my overwhelmedness out of me. He had no idea I had assumed all of the looming household needs, and is helping to take care of those, and he is committed to helping me find some hours to myself this weekend. These are wonderful and dearly appreciated patches for the present, but now I need to figure out the NO component so that next time, I don't get my knickers in such a twist in the first place.