Do you ever surprise yourself? I am not only referring to what you can accomplish but also, in how you treat yourself. Have you ever been presented with an opportunity that sounds wonderful, but instead of thinking of ways to make it happen, you start thinking of how you’re going to say no?
Yea, me too.
Beyond what we normally think of as self-care, I am talking about opportunities that don’t come along every day and require a little extra effort to make happen. The email from an old friend to get coffee, but your kids aren’t in school that day. The happy hour after work that keeps you out an hour later, making you miss dinner. The chance to volunteer your time and talents doing something you love, but you already are stretched too thin.
And for me, the message about a relaxing motherhood retreat that seemingly came out of nowhere, but would also take me away from my family for a day. The message was from a sweet new friend, an offer for a day of journaling, stretching, mama fellowship, and amazing food. It sounded wonderful, I’d have to ask for extra help, extra flexibility, from my people. I began to draft the polite decline message in my head, but my heart screamed loudly: “Do it!” I surprised myself; I said “yes.”
I asked for extra help from my husband, and he was glad to agree. I went to the retreat and the space was invaluable. I left rejuvenated, with some new friends, limber muscles, recipes, and a peaceful heart. A fresh body and mind go so far in the world we live in. What a gift that simple yes was.
I realized that saying “No, but thank you” had become a habitual default; that fact is not only unfair to me, it is also unfair to my people. My family deserves me at my best. When I allow myself to stay stuck in a self-imposed pattern of monotony, I adopt the mentality of a resentful martyr.
“I would, but I can’t because of #kids.”
“I want to, but who will cook dinner?
“I have to do bedtime, and it’ll be so late by the time I get there.”
As mamas, if we never say yes to what we really want, we allow our everyday lives to become tainted by obligation. Our days become stale, devoid of the special little breaks in routine that make us appreciate coming home. In breaking the monotony of a schedule, we are able to fully appreciate both the new and the familiar.
I’m not saying we can always say yes, or that we should. Not every mama has the resources to change their routine for a bit; it’s always case-by-case. Our “yes” should not set our family back any more than it will propel them forward with a full-cup mama. A new pattern, a fresh perspective, and a better way all need a starting point.
I remember my first job at a hardware store; I was a cashier, and I was 15 when I started. Summertime rolled around, and I was feeling guilty asking for time off for a vacation with my family. I kept pestering my boss, asking “I mean, are you sure? Are you really sure you don’t need me?” I must have asked enough times because my boss finally looked up from his paperwork and said: “Yep, I think we can manage without you.” It was sobering and liberating at the same time.
These coming days, I challenge you to welcome an opportunity to click “accept” when you might typically default to “decline”. As parents, we expend so much sweat equity building up our homes and families so that they can survive without us. Why not give everyone a day to breathe? The walls won’t crumble. Everyone will eat; it may not be what you’d feed them, but they will eat. They will get dressed; it may not be what you’d pick, but change is good! Hair will be fixed, fun will be had, naps will be resisted as usual.
So mama, in preparing to grant yourself a “yes,” remember this:
Because you work so hard and love so fully, the world you know will survive without you for a bit. You’ve laid the foundation.
Your people need you to say yes sometimes.
You need to say yes sometimes.
Your busy, full, giving mama’s heart deserves a moment to breathe.
Feature photo and kiss photos by Jen Lauren Photography.
Bridge photo by Audrey Nicole Photography.