Column: Learning how to say noMy parents gave me a lot of what I consider to be good qualities. They taught me to work hard for the things I want. They taught me to respect others, and to give back to my community. What they didn’t teach me was how to say “no” and mean it.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
My parents gave me a lot of what I consider to be good qualities. They taught me to work hard for the things I want. They taught me to respect others, and to give back to my community.
What they didn’t teach me was how to say “no” and mean it.
That’s a bit ironic, too. In my baby book, my mother chronicled my first words as “no” and “mama.” I’m pretty sure she liked the “mama” part. But I’m thinking she probably started discouraging the use of “no” from the beginning, simply because she was hoping to avoid raising a sassy, headstrong teenager.
Turns out, she got the sassy, headstrong teenager anyway. Who then turned in to a sassy, head-strong adult. One who, oddly, can’t seem to say “no” enough.
As I said, my folks taught me to work hard for what I want. I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I went to college to become a newspaper reporter. Doing what I do is all I’ve ever wanted to do.
When I bought my home nine years ago, the equation of my life became simple: Single girl+mortgage=part-time job. I’ve juggled anywhere from one to four jobs at one time for the past few years. I’ve adopted the mantra, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”
That means I’m juggling three jobs right now.
On top of that, I’ve got a full calendar of upcoming events. I’m heading to Arlington for an American Legion Auxiliary conference Saturday, and I have to prepare a five-minute presentation before I go. I’ve got a few more Legion events coming up, as well as the first 2011 Patriotic Day celebration planning meeting next Monday. Before long, I’ll be drumming up the theme for the Dew Days kiddie parade and printing off certificates for the big wheel race.
It’s a delicate juggling act that I seem to perform on a weekly basis.
I can’t remember a year when I was as sick as I have been this winter. Since I’ve always had a relatively high metabolism, I’ve pretty much been able to ward off the cold and flu everyone else gets. I’ve never gotten a flu shot. This year I should have. I’m not sure how much of it is a low tolerance to germs, how much of it is due to my crazy schedule, or how much of it is due to the simple fact I’m 43 and not as tough as I used to be.
The other part of it, though, is that I’m missing time with my family. My sister’s family lives in Minnesota nine months of the year, then spends three months in Canada with my brother-in-law’s family. I didn’t get to see her be pregnant with their two daughters, and I’ve hardly had a chance to see her pregnant with my nephew right now. For a big sister like me, that’s been pretty tough. Not to mention, I’ve missed every dance recital her two daughters have had, just because those seem to fall on a meeting night or one of my nights at Job No. 2.
The Beau has been understanding. He’s known me since I was 23 and ripe out of college, full of dreams and plans. He pretty much stands back and lets me go. I’ve never understood just how important it is to have someone to collapse on until I had someone there.
I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed lately. I’m not sure what is going to give, but the time is coming. I’m practicing my “no.” As much as I love Farmington, I’ve come to appreciate the idea of saying “no” once in a while. One of these days, I’m going to try it, too. I won’t give up all of my obligations, I’m just searching for that happy medium in my life.
I’ve learned that, while it’s good to give your time and energy to your community or your job, you have to give more time to yourself and the people you love, too. That’s something else my parents taught me.