Sometimes, Let Your No Be Yes
by Beth K. Vogt
“To say yes to one thing is to say no to a thousand others.”
~Elisabeth Elliot, author
We’ve mastered the art of saying “No” all too well. I write those words from the heart of a woman — from mine to yours. Somewhere along our journey from women to moms, we learned to say no to ourselves.
There’s no time to pursue my hobby. My dream. My passion. I can’t.
I get it — because I did it. I traded my wish-upon-a-star-dreams for a diaper bag and never looked back.
After 27+ years on active duty as a mom, I understand the demands of motherhood. Our sons and daughters need us. To help with homework. To go on field trips. To sit up late into the night and listen as they wrestle with choices and temptations and mistakes.
Our calendars? Filled with mom-commitments. The only mom-me time left? A few minutes for a bubble bath or to read a chapter of that book that’s been ignored since life Before Children (BC) ended.
But consider this: Perhaps balance can be found. Perhaps we can say yes to our children’s needs and also say yes to our needs.
What a shocking thought!
Wouldn’t that mean we’re selfish?
No! Wise women take care of themselves. We remember that before we were wives and moms we were … someone. A woman who liked to sew. Or hike. Or garden. Or sing. Or write. Do you remember who you were before all the no’s pushed you out of your life?
It’s true that you said yes to motherhood. And, as Elisabeth Elliot points out, by saying yes to children, by necessity you’ve had to say no to many other opportunities. After all, you can’t do everything. Trying to pretend you’re SuperMom? Exhausting. Frustrating. Impossible.
But why reserve all your “I cans” for your children — and all your “I can’ts” for you? Why not teach your children that moms have dreams too? That moms enjoy rock climbing and snowboarding and painting and standing center stage and singing?
To do that, you have to say yes to yourself — sometimes.
As winter turns to spring, consider your upcoming summer schedule. While selecting classes for your kids — summer camp and swim lessons — put something on the calendar for yourself. A Pilates class. A book club with your girlfriends. A cooking class. Yes, this means limiting your kids’ activities. Turn a yes for you into a no for them. Your kids will learn an invaluable lesson: Life isn’t all about them.
And you’ll rediscover something invaluable too: yourself.
Beth K. Vogt is the author of Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35, and is the editor of Connections magazine. Contact her at email@example.com or http://twitter.com/bethvogt.