The act of planning for a solo trip while my kids are at home is a most illuminating picture of what Rebekah Borucki calls the Motherload and others refer to as the mental load of motherhood. However, I’m not sure you have to be a mother to understand.
I have multiple lists of what needs to be done while I’m away. I have three schedules for which I need to arrange transportation and I’ve got a separate list of household chores every day that need attended to that includes things like, waiting for a specific piece of mail and paying a certain bill at the right time. It’s detail after detail and I am terrible at details, so the lists have been rewritten multiple times as I remember new things.
When everything that I am responsible for is laid out in a schedule in plain black and white for someone else to follow? Well, the result is a big old reality check. Keep in mind, this schedule does not include ANY of my work or personal responsibilities. It is merely the comings and goings of my household. However, I know that anyone, parent or not, has lists and lists of their own.
It could be very overwhelming, seeing all of these jobs in front of me. Instead, it was further proof that all the times I say no, I am correct.
No, I can’t be on the school board again this year. No, I can’t bring in crafts or fancy snacks for a class party. Yes, I can help transport costumes for the play, but no, I can’t sell cupcakes at intermission. No, I can’t volunteer for this cause or that organization even though each is so important to me. No, I can’t go out for last minute drinks or a quick lunch with friends.
All this no may sound terrible, especially the last one, but I’m here to tell you, it isn’t. It doesn’t feel like I am missing out. It actually feels like freedom.
By saying no, I have the freedom to choose exactly how I spent my time. No longer am I running from this obligation to that out of a sense of duty or because I’m afraid no one else will. Instead, I’ve chosen where I go and what I do.
Let’s be clear, I am still busy, with all my time accounted for on any given day. But I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed out or like I can’t possibly keep going, which is exactly how I used to feel when my schedule was full of things I didn’t truly want to do but felt obligated to.
Life isn’t all about getting to do what we want all the time. If it were I would still be writing this to you, but I’d be doing it from a beach somewhere warm. It isn’t only about doing what we want, but it is about balance and compromise.
The secret is, finding that balance and not compromising yourself in the process. The secret is learning about yourself enough to know WHY you are saying yes, so that you can learn better when and how to say no.
No is a beautiful word that can be full of self-preservation.
How do you plan to use no this week? Comment below to share. I’d love to know.