Monday, July 29, 2019

No and No and No and I Cannot

I didn't mean to go a full month without typing anything into this little box on the internet. I have written a lot of things in my mind, but the month got away from me in a flurry of houseguests (seven at once!), group travel arrangements, homeschool group facilitation, hosting our landlord and his partner for dinner, and all sorts of other little things that got done only because I made a lot of lists. I am quite certain that I forgot to do a few things which may or may not be important. I suppose I'll find out what those are when someone lets me know. But for now, I think things are quieting down a little. I sent Z off to camp yesterday, and that marked the end of some big tasks I've been working on. Now I am going to direct my efforts toward a new endeavor.

In short, I am working on being better at saying no.  Also at saying I quit, but in a kinder way than that. These years with my children are fleeting, and now more than ever I see the value in reserving the best of myself and my efforts for the benefit of my little family. I don't want to come to them exhausted and out of sorts; I don't want them to remember me primarily as a frustrated person who was always too busy to enjoy them and to nurture them. Of course I sometimes need to be busy, and sometimes there will be people who need me more than they do. But overall, these are the years that are meant to belong to nurturing their hearts and spirits, and helping them grow into adults who are at peace with themselves and ready to make their own way in the world. If that is my focus, then I need to jettison some things which are preventing me from doing this job well.

I envy people who say no with ease. They opt out of things which I feel obligated to do, moving on with their lives as if the world will still spin and things will still get done if they do not do them. When I say no, I feel I must explain why and apologize a lot, then possibly offer to do an alternate task to make up for it. I think this is due in part to knowing how hard it is to find people who are willing to help out with tedious tasks, and also due to a misguided sense of what it means to serve. It occurred to me lately that sometimes I am serving those who really don't need my service. They want it, sure, but the question of need is a firm nope.

I do want to serve those who are in need of what I have to offer. As it is unhealthy for me to spend too much of myself on those outside my family who are vying for my attention, so it would also be unhealthy for my children to think they are the only people who matter. So now I ask myself a few questions. First, is this something that is necessary, or is it just for the fun and convenience of those who have plenty of fun and convenience as it is? If it is necessary, am I the best person for the job? If I do not do it, and no one else steps forward, will that leave a gap which will cause harm or distress? If the task is unnecessary, or if there is someone else better suited to do it, then I can say no with confidence. I can quit doing things which really do not require my efforts. And I'm in the process of doing that with a number of tasks. It is uncomfortable for me. I don't like having to do it. But on the other side, I see an opportunity to serve better. I can't give more in ways that matter if I don't give less in ways that don't.

There are things I know I will continue to do, to say a confident yes to. That's part of this process as well, recognizing those things which are working really well for me, for my family, and for others. I will continue to facilitate the homeschool group and be the parish council secretary. I arranged the group travel for the camp Z is attending, and I'll likely do that again if the people in charge of such things were happy with my work this year. I am 100% on board to continue my cat job. But beyond that, well, I make no guarantees.

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