NO IS NOT A NEGATIVE
And Who Comes First?
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Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it? I can’t remember things from last month, or last week but I can remember that when I first found out I was pregnant, and when my babies were in utero, I talked to them and played Baby Einstein recordings of classical music and scientific theory. I had read an article about brain development, and I wanted to give them every possible advantage. I was sure they would be speaking in full sentences before the age of one.
By the time they reached their first birthdays, I had forgotten about this goal. Don’t get me wrong … both of my kids talked … A LOT! Mostly, it was gibberish and mimicry, and it could be exhausting having one-sided conversations with them all day.
However, the one word they did learn, and a word that they used regularly, was NO.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. I said NO to them all day long, often yelling NO loudly.
NO—Don’t touch that! As little fingers reached for a red-hot stovetop.
NO—Don’t do that! As one bit the other, with a ferocity that would have been admired in Jaws.
NO—Don’t go out there! As a tricycle positioned at the bottom of the driveway was waiting to be pedaled into the street.
They obviously knew the word. They repeated it often enough, but rarely did they heed the admonition. At least not at the first request. I became numb, saying NO … or even thinking NO.
For example, when the teacher asked if I would volunteer in the classroom. I was thinking, “NO! How would I find time to do that?” But I agreed. I told myself she asked me because she knew what a good mom I was—dumb, I know. I was the only mom who said yes.
Or agreeing to cater the food for a friend’s birthday party or bake a special cake. Both are things I love to do. Of course, I said yes. My family would have to eat fast food and fend for themselves while I planned, shopped, and baked for friends.
I’ve kept this practice up for years. Putting other people ahead of me. A quick note for you young moms … I know, I hear you. I’m not talking about when our babies are infants and rely on us totally. But at some point, something has to give!
It’s easier for me to say this now that my kids have flown the coop. But if I’m being honest, I still say yes to far too many things.
What a martyr I’ve become.
Working double shifts, attending every meeting and planning session, even if it isn’t required. Basically, I’m running myself ragged to give everyone around me what I think they need. Whirling around as if I was earning a reward or a ribbon when nobody even realizes what I’m putting myself through.
Everyone is talking about self-care these days, as I know you’ve heard. I’ve always thought of self-care as getting my nails done or having a spa day. They are things I say I like – but in reality, getting my nails done or having a spa day makes me anxious. Who has the time? I’m spent; whipped; exhausted. I’ve run out of energy as I continue to take on the martyr’s role.
Want to try something new? How about a new kind of self-care?
I’m going to slow down, listen to myself, and consider my own thoughts and feelings. I need to find my JOY! Just like saying NO to our kids to protect them from danger, we can do the same for ourselves.
There are times when saying NO is not a negative.
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