Confession: I am a big time people pleaser. It probably stems from growing up an educator’s daughter. I went to the same school where my mother taught and I was “that” kid. On-time, polite, never in detention, straight-arrow. In my relationships I have the track record of being the one you can count on. Flat tire got your stranded? On my way. Need a last minute sitter? What time should I be there? Need a volunteer for a committee? I’ll co-chair! All this “yes-ing” appeals to my personality type and gifts. I like to be of service. It makes me feel good. Hell, I’ve made my career around it, but at some point even the happiest and most competent “yes-woman” has to set some boundaries.
I’m currently in a phase of life where my plate feels very full. I have my own small business, I am the primary breadwinner for my family while my husband finishes school, I have a 2 year old (enough said), I have a personal blog and contribute articles here, and my family recently moved. Since becoming a mom I feel spread thin, and I know that when I say yes to everything, the most important things (my spouse, child, and sanity) suffer. Here’s the problem: saying no feels strange to me. I feel the need to over explain all the reasons why I can’t say yes. Why isn’t “no, thank you.” or “not right now” enough? I am about to be 37-freaking-years-old. That seems grown up enough to let your “no” stand alone.
Recently I had two opportunities that I knew I should say no to, and I did. My eye may have twitched a little and my hands got clammy, but I simply said no. Once I got over the awkward feeling of this strange new response, I felt empowered. I read a post where Austin mom and author Jen Hatmaker shared that her agent gave her a simple decision-making formula for requests of her time: “If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no.” Someone cross-stitch this for me to hang above my desk please?! If the request presented to you doesn’t light your fire or fill your cup, take a pass. Give someone else the opportunity to serve/speak/shine.
We (moms) are confident in so many ways. If we can confidently care for our children, run a business, run a household, and run for president, we can definitely decide what is and isn’t for us and let our “no” stand alone. Who’s with me?