I have to get something out into the open. I have been experiencing something that is literally blowing my mind. I’m talking about a word we all know well and use daily, but why is it considered a “bad word”? Why does this one little word affect relationships with friends and family? It can tear friendships apart. I’m talking about the little two letter word, “No”. That’s right, I said it! No.
Before I begin my rant, I want to throw some fun facts out to you,and give you an explanation on how this word has changed my life.
Fun fact number one. Women are people pleasers. If you’re a women reading this right now, you probably can relate. More women than men feel the need to please everyone around them regardless of relationship status. Strangers included. We can’t say no. Even if we are stretched thin, and have a million things going on all at once, we feel the need to fulfill the requests of others, at the expense of our own sanity. For example, your best girlfriend calls and asks if she can come over to hang out with you tomorrow evening. You know that in the evening time, it’s the only designated time you have to get your laundry done, or even the only time you have away from your kids, and have been looking forward to this alone time for weeks. YOU STILL SAY “YES”. You say yes to everyone. You’re a people pleaser. You feel like a terrible friend because let’s be real, being a parent is hard and time consuming. You give every ounce of your energy to the health and safety of your children, not leaving much for your own. Mental health to be more specific. And your friends are left hanging in the meantime. If you’re a new mommy (for mommies of 3 year olds or younger), you’re in what I call “survival mode”. Your “sleep derived” little world is stressful. You’re over caffeinated, under hydrated, haven’t had a moment alone in years, or even been able to use the bathroom alone, because heaven freaking forbid you close the door for some privacy on a 2 year old, and being used as a jungle gym is actually really annoying. So, if you fit into this category, like me, it’s okay to say no to friends. If you can’t fit them into your already insane schedule, do not make yourself feel terrible because you have nothing left to give. If your friends try to make you feel bad for your absence, and you’ve tried to explain your situation to them, and they’re still not getting it, maybe it’s time to get some new friends. Is this harsh? Hell yes it is. Maybe even a little bit extreme, but you make the call. If the friend is worth having around then maybe set a specific date, place, time, and location. Let everyone know you have allotted time open for a coffee or a wine date. Set the location, and put out the mass invite. If they make it, great! If they don’t, then you tried, girl.
Fun fact number two. Sometimes, your family doesn’t get it. Whether you’re a single mom, or a happily married mom, raising little people is hard work. Having family members who are constantly judging your every “mommy move”, makes it even harder. Let me paint you a picture of how my family operates. I come from an extremely close family. Everyone knows everyone’s business at all times. We are loud, loving, involved, and have zero filters. No questions or topics are off the table because, hey, we’re family! This also includes the expectation that you will sleep over at their homes, instead of getting a comfy hotel room. I travel up north to visit family approximately four times a year. I always drive the ten long hours from Southern California to Northern California to save money. It’s always the expectation that Livvy (my baby) and I stay with a family member. It’s actually insulting to them if you don’t. In the most loving way, of course. As much as I love spending the nights at their homes, it requires me to share a bed with my three year old, with all of our luggage stored in the corner of the room, and with the AC always off, because my family be like that. Not cheap, but “budget friendly”. To put it kindly, I don’t sleep. My toddler is a violent sleeper. She attacks me multiple times during the night. She uses her knees and elbows to thrash around the bed, constantly assaulting me. Every co-sleeping mom reading this right now is shaking their heads in agreement. Toddlers cannot just stay in one spot during the night. It’s just a fact. I wake up pissed off and feeling victimized as I check my rib cage for bruising. It’s terrible. Oh, let’s not forget about the excessive sweating most toddlers have. The room can be a cool 62 degrees and Livvy will be sweating her cute little butt off. Why does my child turn into a hot furnace during the night? I have no idea. But, apparently this is not uncommon for toddlers to sweat while sleeping. For the first time in my short 33 years of life, I advised my mother that Livvy and I would be getting a hotel room out in town. I explained to her that I needed to be able to get a full night of sleep, with AC, and two queen sized beds. To my surprise my mother replied “okay”. Word spread quickly that I had made plans to stay in a hotel, and my phone began to ring. I had other family members trying to make me feel bad for making this choice. I still said “no thank you”. I explained I needed to be able to sleep and be comfortable during my time there. If I’m tired and sleep deprived during my visit, then I’m just not myself. I said no, and guess what, I had an amazing time up north, and my family still loves me anyway. So, in conclusion, even if your family doesn’t agree with your actions, they are still going to love you anyway.
Getting back to the “time allotted” thing I mentioned before. I came up with this idea after losing some friends by politely declining invites to hang out. Every week I send out a mass text message to girlfriends who I rarely get to see. Some who have kids, and some who do not. I tell them I am having a wine night with snacks, and give them a specific time, and the place (always my house). Then, I wait to see who comes. If they can’t make it, I honestly don’t take offense to it. But, in return, they can’t give you a hard time about how they are never able to spend time with you. You are trying. You have made these plans in advance and it shows you are trying so very hard to maintain your friendships. This may or may not work for you right in this moment, but it might work at a later time. Like, maybe when your child starts sleeping through the night.
One thought on “Learning to say no and the single mother.”
Not a mother, or even a woman. But, as an adult going through life and struggling through the ups and the downs and aspiring to build my own family, it is inspiring to read another person’s ventures in prioritizing themselves.
Saying “no” is something that people don’t fully understand. I’ve started doing this a lot more in my life, and even at work. Being Active Duty, it’s hard to fathom that you can say “no”, but you can especially when you’re doing so for a legitimate reason.
I think some people also miss the fact that saying “no” can be accomplished by many ways other than saying “no”. We get wrapped up in the word itself rather than what it empowers us to do and how to do.
Life is challenging all around and we’re always looking for the answers that best fit us and love us forward. Learning how to create breathing space for ourselves is important, especially when you consider that some of us are having to worry about other (little) lives.