I Said “No”…..And The World Kept Spinning


I have an illness.

I am not sure what it is called or if it is clinically recognized by the American Medical Association, but it seems to be a chronic condition that I just can’t seem to shake. I have had symptoms since I was a child and as I have aged (gracefully, of course) the symptoms only seem to have intensified. I am guessing that more than a few of you suffer from this same syndrome, so I consider this post to be a public service announcement of sorts.

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My symptoms?

  • My hand involuntarily raises when I hear the words “We need someone to…..”
  • I have a reflex that causes me to check any and all boxes next to the phrase “Yes, I am interesting in being/helping with….”
  • When someone says “I have so much to do right now,” I automatically reply with , “Tell me what I can do to help.”

I have tried to sit on my hands, not make eye contact, wire my jaw closed (well….maybe not that one, but it may be a good next step)……nothing seems to work. The symptoms persist.

Then, last week, I tried an innovative new treatment.

I said “No.”

In my past life (i.e. before I had kids), I had what I considered to be a busy life. I worked 50 hours a week, traveled extensively for business purposes, had a decent social agenda, and spent a good amount of time with family and friends.

Since my 2nd child was born over 4 years ago (eeek…..), I left the corporate world to be home with my kiddos, and never in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined how busy life would become. In those 4 years, I have been a small business owner, a blogger (aren’t you lucky…), a soccer coach and mom, a dance mom, a tennis mom, a tee-ball mom, a classroom volunteer, a 20+ hour per week Work-From-Home-Mom, a scout leader, a PTO President, a campaign volunteer…..and oh yeah, a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. I love my life just as it is. I do not know how to sit still, and never have,  so unless there are several items on my to-do list, I am not a happy camper.

But at some point, the proverbial light-bulb lights up. For me, this happened a few weeks back. As school started back in session, every minute of every day was perfectly scheduled…..even double booked at times….and I realized, I was no longer doing myself, or anyone else for that matter, any favors. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and no longer was I able to give 100% to all of the items that I had accepted responsibility for. And to me, that was not OK.

So I took a HUGE step back and I looked at my plate. What needed more room? What could I step away from? What had to change in order to find my balance? And, OMG, would the world stop spinning if I said “No” to something?

I hemmed and I hawed. I convinced myself I could indeed handle it all. And then I convinced myself that I was foolish for thinking so. I listened to my kiddos playing and laughing while I stared at the computer screen and I made my decision.

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I slowly typed an email to one of the groups that I was currently leading  and I put it all out there. I needed help and I was asking for it. This was a first for me. I hit send and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief/guilt. Not sure what the response would be, my codependent self considered “recalling” the email or sending another one saying “just kidding”.  After all, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

But before I could figure out the “recall” function…..I had a reply in my inbox. Actually, several replies. Other moms, my friends, understood. No one was upset. No one was disappointed in me. They supported my decision and understood the need to find a balance and set priorities. In fact, several, stepped up to fill my shoes. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

I had said “No”….and the world had kept spinning.

So am I cured of this mystery illness? No. I am pretty certain there is no cure. In fact, I am fairly positive that there is a flashing neon sign on my back that reads “sucker”.

But all of this to say, a lesson has been learned by this particular “sucker”. Saying “No” once in a while is OK. Saying “No” does not make me less of a leader. Indeed,  in a roundabout way, it makes me a better mom…a better wife…a better role model. And really, that is what this crazy, busy, wild ride is all about.



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