Will I ever stop saying “No?”

I’ve concluded that toddlers get a bad rap. Everyone loves to talk about how “No” is a toddler’s favorite word and they toss it around with great regularity.

And seeing as how I happen to live with a toddler, I will not argue that it’s a favorite word of hers. I particularly like it when she’s saying “No” but actually means “Yes” and even knows it. But continues to say “No.”

But after an email exchange with my sister yesterday, on top of many similar such conversations since becoming a mom, I’ve concluded that it’s actually Mom’s who say “No” more than anyone. And not because of discipline.  I caution you kittens, I’m headed into the murky waters of the Childess vs. Parents debate here.

You got it. As a working Mom, I feel like I’m in a constant tug of war with my schedule. Inevitably something always comes up – a work happy hour, a friend’s BBQ, a random dinner out after work, someone’s shower. You name it, something is happening. I mean, when you’re a gal as pretty and funny as moi, surely you are in demand. Everyone wants a piece of you. But inevitably, you end up finding yourself saying “No” more than “Yes” and it ain’t easy.

For me, the reality is that my baby needs me. Everyone else, they just like being social or they want to talk about work, or whatever the case may be, but they don’t need me, per say. I know, I know, I’m totally blushing. I know that many of them WANT me. And can you blame them? But they don’t NEED me. Darling daughter, she needs me.

And when I’m crunching the numbers and facing the reality of actually only seeing her maybe 2-2.5 hours a day, five days a week, the reality is that I pretty much say “No” to everything. I like to make an occasional exception but even then, I’m moderately consumed with how much precious time I’m missing with my daughter.

We all know that becoming a mother is more than just learning how to take care of a child, it also is a path of discovery, learning about you as a Mom because you just don’t know Mom you until you are a Mom. As it is learning about how your husband is as a Father. Sometimes its fun and wonderful, sometimes it’s a little rocky. And for me, part of it is learning to have the confidence to just say “No.”

And most importantly, be OK with it, realizing that particularly if the group of friends does not have children, it’s not as easy for them to understand why I always say No. Is that patronizing? I don’t know, I certainly don’t mean for it to be, it’s just the way it is.

But along the way, friends or family members might feel slighted. And they might rightfully feel like things are a one-way street. I mean, hell, I’m happy to see anyone who wants to play any night of the week if they’re in my hood and want to swing by. I’ll toss a few back with you for as long as you want to stay (or until I fall asleep by 9:30pm).

So that’s the other side of it. I’m saying “No” constantly and then I’m adding in, but if you’ll come to me, it’ll work out great.

Is that fair?

Probably not. But it’s the way it is. Staying focused on the fact that my priority above and beyond anything else, is to my child, is no small feat. And this is just one of things I have to do. I know I’m not alone in this – I know that other Mom’s feel the same way.  And my sister, who shall remain nameless and is, in fact, childless, sweetly pointed out that for the childless out there – the reality is that if they care about you and love you – then they realize why you are the CE”NO” and why you are on a one-way road, and they are willing to bend for you because you are still important to them. Just as they are important to you, even if on your terms.

Sure, I’m sure there are plenty of parents that abuse it and plenty of people who never ever say “yes” but I guess, for me, as a working Mom, I am filled a little bit with dread each and every time I get invited somewhere during coveted darling daughter time,  I think long and hard before I bang out the email. I think about if I want to explain myself or if a simple “sorry, can’t make it” is enough, and then I just take a deep breath and hope, upon hope, that if they don’t understand now, that someday in the future if they have kids, they’ll look back and recall and just sort of get it.

So there you have it, true mom confession of the day. I say “No” more than my 21 month old and while she might like it, I actually hate it. It leaves a pit in my stomach more often than not, but it’s just the way it is.

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