I have to say no to my children more times in a day that I care to admit. No cookies for breakfast. No flip-flops at school. No cleats in the house. No TV before homework. No you can't have a puppy. Or an iguana. Or a pool. No ninjas at the dinner table. No going to the mall naked. No hitting your sister. No opening the packages I'm about to mail. Blast. You opened the packages I was about to mail. Timeout.
It is nos on top of nos around here. A no tower. All. Day. Long.
With children it feels like the nos are a necessity. Yes I prefer the yeses but it is the nos that give the structure of learning right from wrong. I give them in the (desperate) hope that my children will grow up to be happy, healthy adults that are able to function in society without their fingers in their noses and their shoes on the right feet. Or at least to not do the things that we did in our youth. For me the nos give them oxygen. Not the amount that makes them suffocate from too much restriction or the other extreme that makes them take advantage and become spoiled. Just the beautiful space between where they are able to breathe but they know that they are loved enough to care how they behave as human beings.
But when it comes to adults it becomes a bit more blurry. We sometimes forget about our own oxygen that we so desperately need and deserve. We become yes machines trying to out volunteer one another. In the battle of super parents, I fold. I do not want to be super or parent in a supposedly superior way. I'll take mediocre, thank you very much, with a giant side of sanity.
I am not criticizing volunteering in anyway. In fact, the world absolutely needs those willing to do extraordinarily selfless things for the pure benefit of knowing they have done something for the greater good of humanity. Our communities and schools are better places because of those willing to dedicate their precious time and energy into making them better. They are paid in thank yous and occasionally (but not often enough) in free food. I will absolutely give my hours to the non-profits that have personal meaning to me. I believe though, that if we say yes to every invitation, swim team, fundraiser, car wash, project, yard sale, art camp, cookie sale, playdate, meeting, potluck, campout, dance, instrument, sport, choir, theatre, festival, 5K run, class parent opening, coaching opportunity, troop leader position, “enrichment” activity and birthday bounce house party that it just might cloud what is truly important to us. If it is enough to make your head spin, just imagine what it could be doing to you child's.
My yes card is full.
So this summer I am saying no. Unless something directly benefits the relationship that I have with my children or my marriage or my close friendships than it is quite simply, not worth it. I am choosing them. I am choosing me. I am choosing the causes that we deeply care about. I will show them that we do give back, we just do it with intention. Why give our best selves to others and have little left to give at home? Our money and time are valuable things and it would do a world of good to invest them wisely.
Mother Teresa so eloquently said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
Cheers to that.