Thursday, July 29, 2010

I have a love/hate relationship....

..... with the word "no". You see, I have been known to say "yes" to avoid conflicts, confrontations, and awkward moments. I have also been known to say "yes" simply because I have often felt it is my duty to help as many people as humanly possible without any regard for my own health or sanity. I even saw a therapist about 4 years ago (for something unrelated) who told me I needed to learn to use the word "no". I had gone to a session one day and spilled to her about always saying "yes" to my husband, my family, my boss, my supervisor, my co-workers, my classmates, church members, and of course, my daughter. I went home and talked to my husband about it, and much to my surprise, he agreed with the therapist and told me I needed to stand my ground more often!

The word "no" got me in to trouble at work when I was pregnant with Andrew, but the consequences of refusing a silly request were far easier to handle than the stress, frustration, and resentment of saying "yes" to something that I should not have had to do in the first place.

The word "no" has caused some tensions here and there with my family, because I have not taken certain people in to my home, I have greatly reduced the amount of time other family members spend in my home, and I have refused to do things like travel long distances to see people who I barely hear from, or call people who only call me when they want something. I love my family members, blood-related or not, and I would give a lot of myself to help them. But at one point I stepped back and realized that I was giving every extra ounce of me that had not been given to my husband, children, job, school, and church callings to my family members. There was nothing left for me to give to myself. I was having panic attacks on a weekly basis, and one of those even landed me in the hospital (thanks to the intensified symptoms associated with an all-natural dietary supplement). Putting my foot down with my family caused some confrontations that were unpleasant, but it was needed for my sake and the sake of everyone who knew me.

I badly needed to establish boundaries with everyone who knew me, and one little two-letter word helped me start to create those boundaries. It has made me reconnect with myself by helping me realize who I am now, what my limits are, what I accept and do not accept, how I feel about myself and others, and how I can make myself feel satisfied and productive. The word "no" can be spoken in many different ways, of course. "I can't", "I won't", "I don't", and so on, for example.

I read through a good portion of a book titled "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life" not long ago, and I felt I had been doing many things right according to the book. But the book touched deeper in to the guilt many of us feel as God's children when we decide to say "no". The best way to sum it up is to paraphrase something from the book:

What hurts people will not always harm them. If you go to the dentist to get a root canal, it will hurt, but it will make you better in the end.

You CAN refuse someone's request or actions, even if they are asking for help from a genuine place. If you are stretched thin or being taken from your higher responsibilities too often, it is indeed okay to say "no". If someone you love is being enabled by the support of others, they will be hurt by a refusal, but will hopefully learn from it and grow in the end.

That is why I love the word "no".

Days like today remind me of the reasons I am not so fond of the word "no". When my three year old is stomping through the house yelling "No! No! No! No! No! No!" after being told it is bed time, I suddenly realize I could go a day or 30 without hearing that word. When I hear my daughter yelling "Nooooooooo! That's MINE!" from across the house, I find myself wishing that word was never used in our home. But then I realize two things that help me come to terms with it:

1. I enjoy knowing that my children are comfortable expressing themselves at home. I will never stifle their basic need to express opinion and emotion. Obviously, there are consequences and rewards for negative and positive expressions. This doesn't mean that our children are disciplined every time they object. Rather, if it is done in a constructive manner, they will have the chance to be heard; and if it is done in a negative manner, they get a talk or a time-out, depending on the severity of the reaction. I feel this helps them understand the depth of their emotions while helping them to build self-control.

2. If the word "no" was not present in any language, it would be replaced by something like "Flarg" or "Mifp". I suppose it would be entertaining to hear "Flarg! Flarg! Flarg!" or "Flaaaaaaaarg!" for a change, but it would soon become as grating as hearing "no" in that tone or at that volume.

Either way, I felt compelled to express my views on one of the universally understood words tonight, and now I feel I've made my point, whatever that may be. So I will leave you with this profound thought.......

NO! :-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The most profound question.... for moms.

What would you do with 3 whole hours of alone time??

That is THE question of the day for moms.

I didn't know the answer to that question until today. Obviously my answer will vary from day to day depending on my to-do list, my time management, my energy, and my mood. Today the answer was:

Clean the house ALONE
Eat lunch ALONE
Walk the dog I am dog-sitting ALONE
Weed the herb bed ALONE
Make cookies ALONE
Do laundry ALONE

and the best one of all......

Listen to the sound of SILENCE.....

Since I will have the opportunity to have 3 hours of alone time again tomorrow, I will be taking the opportunity to:

Remove a dead sago palm from the backyard
Take a bubble bath
Take a nap

............. that's pretty much all I am going to do.

For once I am taking my husband's advice and I am going to force myself to do as little as possible and actually relax like a "normal" person. Not relax my way, which is doing all of the things I did today by myself. But I will actually bring myself to a level of peace and laziness that I have not felt in recent months. I say that now, but tomorrow my list might look like this:

Remove dead sago palm
Take another walk
Sort old mail
Review church music and send emails for church calling
Read some more of the beginner's piano lesson manual
Research and plan activities for the kids for next week
Review the family budget
Check the fluid levels on our other car again
Sort through the kids' toys and pull ones they don't play with anymore for donation
Notice the time and realize I don't have enough time for a bubble bath or a nap

Should I fight the urge to go with option two and force myself to take option one? Normal people would not struggle with the answer to that question, but I am not normal. I am insane.

C'est la vie, oui?

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's been fun so far...

.... Summer, that is. Grace had a great time a dance camp, and then we started swim lessons. She has made HUGE improvements with swimming! Andrew is still being a little stubborn, but I am seeing progress. Here is Andrew's awesome news. He is completely day potty trained! It happened this past week. We have only had one accident all week long. I am so proud! Both of the kids went a little stir-crazy this week because of the rain, but that will quickly be cured when we get to see some cousins tomorrow and pick some blueberries next week! I LOVE going to pick blueberries. We put on our sun hats, lather on the sunscreen and bug spray, and we enjoy a morning of picking pails and pails of blueberries. I think we will make it a themed day with blueberry foods and reading Blueberries for Sal (LOVE that book) followed by some blueberry crafts. Sounds fun to me! But I am ready to hit the beach. People who have gone to Galveston for the day have told me it's not so bad, so I think we will make a day trip out there within the next couple of weeks. But here is what I am really looking forward to: Shakespeare in the Park at Miller Outdoor Theater! We are going to see Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Heck yeah! *happy dance*

In a way I am ready for school to start again, but mostly I am not ready. It will be a bittersweet start to a new year for my darling girl, and a new year of surprises for Andrew. Can we just hang out at the pool, pick fruit, and read books all year long?? *sigh*