I’ve been reading more blogs lately. It’s equal parts wanting escapism and wanting community. I have discovered that each August brings with it a kind of fatigue and panic. I imagine it has something to do with hitting the two month mark of juggling an unpredicatble schedule—camp proves too much for the girls and they need a break, clients come out of the woodwork and request meetings that suggest they know when I can’t meet and will take no substitute and despite a long winter, I become disenchanted with the oppressive humidity and find my fuse grows shorter by the day.
I’ve read about not being superhuman, about transitioning to new truths, and I’ve been contemplating the inevitable march to the next thing that is lapping at these August days. Sometimes the enormity of what parenting means overwhelms me. How can it be that we are supposed to spend time nurturing these creatures from completely helpless and needy, to not needing us? How can you do that naturally? And how is it possible that despite knowing how fleeting it is we can still be undone by a grueling bedtime? Or feel resentful that they want a 6th story or 29th string cheese?
I think August really just shames me, because I long for autumn, long for school and all the while I am aching with the longer limbs, astute observations and soaring changes in my girls. It never occurs to me that maybe I am growing too. Is my impulse to say no a sign that perhaps I am readying for the road ahead? Could responding to requests for a show with, “No. Why don’t you find something to do with the things in the art bin?” or “You girls should go play outside instead,” mean that I know what they need to emerge from this stage to the next? Because in August, after the girls have gone to bed, I feel as if I am failing, like I am shirking responsibility and failing to dig deep enough.
I happened to take a moment after saying no the other day to really examine how the girls were. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were having fun. No one was murmuring, “She’s so mean,” and they were actually getting along. My “no,” which I had assumed would be interpreted as a punishment, was actually very matter of fact. It was no different than if they’d asked if my favorite color was blue or green and I’d answered green.
I said no. No to guilt, no to the same old thing. I don’t know how every single little thing will play out and in deviating from the usual answer of yes, I think maybe I grew up a little.
Tagged: daughters, life, working mom
No is the new yes. I totally feel you. We met in line at the Iconix swag extravaganza and I somehow started interviewing you and your friend about your entire life stories. You are interesting that way. Say yes to yourself more.
It’s interesting, the whole thing really made/makes me reevaluate how things go down—did they miss out, did I miss out, did everyone really win.
Today we hit the road and drove about 90 minutes to a museum that is sort of in the middle of no where. No email, no distractions. It was a different kind of yes. We all won.
As my friend Gina Hyams says, “Sometimes you have to say no to make room for yes.”
So, so true, Millie.
I find myself thinking the same things. But… I’ve found that by telling the girls “no” or “not right now” they’re learning to do things on their own (or together). I find that while I sometimes find myself thinking “gosh, am I just being the laziest mother ever?” it tends to play out to “wow, my girls are really becoming independent!”
During group playdates my kids rarely come to me for help or to join in. Other kids are always interrupting the “mom time”. I have to say I’m proud when people ask how I’ve taught my children to “play alone”. So… even though I sometimes have to force myself to “ignore them” I think it’s for the best in the long run (even if there is a little guilt).
I think the thing I most value in this discovery is the awakening to not having it all sorted out and opening myself up to taking a different route.
Still wish our girls could play together.
Saying no sometimes is good. Kids need to know that the answer is not always yes, and they need to how to use their imagination and entertain themselves. We raise them to leave us, basically. Never totally, but you know what I mean. We need to let them fly and teaching them to do that sometimes means we have to say no.
Fin asked me on the way back from the museum today if I would always be her helper, “even if it’s a ballet teacher and not a librarian.” I told her that I would do it so long as she wanted me.
Saying no to guilt requires a lot of effort sometimes. Guilt just comes so natural, doesn’t it? I am working on that too.
I find myself in equal measure dreading and looking forward to the beginning of the new school year. This summer wasn’t very relaxing at all, I need more vacation time!