Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No, No, No (Not Right Now)

Go away overnight and leave me??? NO!
My toddler and I have adopted the same mantra. I find myself saying the word NO a lot lately, not just to my son, hellbent on destroying things and/or hurting himself. I am also turning down requests for getting together, outings and really cool opportunities that do not fit the rhythm of my life right now.

Sometimes it feels good, because trying to squeeze in an afternoon play date between Ezra's nap and when I leave for work at 5:15 is just too much (com)motion, even as I would like to spend time with my dear friend and her kids. Saying no helps keeps our lives simple and gives us long stretches of time at home, puttering and playing.

Saying no to volunteer work that doesn't light me up with joy disappoints the person asking me, but saves me drudgery and obligation (because caring for young children provides me with ample amounts of both of those!).

Other times saying No hurts like hell and I howl (on the inside) with resentment that I can't find a way to say Yes. Some examples:
  • Last Saturday, Matthew and I planned to see a really amazing strings group performing in a bar. Seeing live music together is something we have long enjoyed as a couple, but 11 pm club shows are a relic of our rollicking 20s, our life pre-children. We cancelled at the last minute because babysitter arrangements meant we'd arrive late for an expensive show, and we were concerned that bedtime might be a 10 pm affair for the kids.
  • I was invited to participate in a small women's discussion group,  for women with young children interested in uncovering our life's purpose. I need that. I am hungry for a chance to talk aloud in a guided setting about what's next for me as these children grow and need me less. Did I mention it was with several women I consider close friends? And would be free, led by a retired therapist? But no not right now, it's meets regularly on a work night and interferes with bedtime, besides. I spent a long time thinking through how - if I switched this shift with that person, it could probably work but then I'd have to go into the studio on a Sunday, which really upsets the flow of family togetherness on the one day a week with no work or extracurricular obligations. I was thinking so hard about how I could make.this.happen that I gave myself 4:30 am insomnia.
  • I want to visit my brother in his new city of Portland and I want to do it alone, without children, drinking craft beers, riding our bikes and staying up late listening to bands in clubs. No. Not right now
  •  I want to take an overnight meditation retreat but a still-nursing kiddo would be difficult for Matthew to soothe in the overnight hours. No. Not right now.
When I slow my breath and really tune in more deeply, I see two truths bubbling up:

Saying no now doesn't mean I won't be able to say yes later, when the time is right. When the time is right, these events will happen easily and not require acrobatics and insomnia to force a way. This is a short season in my life when my children need me so intensely.

The other truth is that a simple life can be boring for me, someone who needs novelty in small doses. I need to find a way to meet my need for interesting and new, on a small scale and in a way that meshes with my life right now.

I'm accepting ideas if you have them! How do you cultivate the fun and fulfilling while caring for young children?


  1. Love this post! My mantra has become "I am in this season of my life." I love your saying "not right NOW." For me the hardest lately has been an intense desire for a trip with Lance sans kids. I have JUST started feeling ready for this, but the complications (still breastfeeding), cost (flying in his mom for overnight care + our own costs), and my fear (am I REALLY ready to leave her?) point towards NOT JUST YET. I find myself getting bored at times too, yet my desire to be Iyla's primary caregiver totally trumps any fleeting desire to start working a lot more. What a dance this is!

  2. P.S.- Ezra's pout face KILLS me! Too cute.

  3. No advice or ideas, but lots of commiseration. A really thoughtful and wise post, Abby. I feel your pain! Although my dance (full-time work and motherhood) is a bit different, I am still so frustrated at having to say "no" to so many things right now (especially exercise and ANY time to myself!). Hope you can find some moments for you soon...