I learned a really important lesson for me last year. Without deliberating meaning to, my word must have been No.
I experienced saying “no” and how wonderful that was for me. Saying no, feeling guilty about it, sounding selfish, but sitting happily situated knowing that it was a good kind of selfish.
No: meaning, do less, be more. Meaning, say no to the world more, say yes to what’s going to work for our little family more.
The inescapable pressures on a mom of young children to perform every conceivable duty well grates on me. Advance in your career! Have the perfect birth & nursing! Be on your kid’s preschool committee for healthy treats! Stay//become thin and sexy for your spouse! Don’t complain about being tired! Don’t gloat about having kids! Rinse, repeat.
Perhaps for me the turning point was sending our oldest to a few hours a week nature school. Not much time away from home, but it still felt like a big shift from our laissez-faire, surviving three kids in under four years kind of life. Suddenly I got the two little kids on the same nap schedule, and I started homeschooling a little more in earnest with our oldest. I tuned into how our son was playing with his little frenemies at school, how he was coping with adjusting to listening to other adults, how our middle child needed special girl time, how our monster tot was, indeed, exceptionally physical, and that he needed extra attention just unto himself to ensure he stayed alive.
I shut out parts of the world. The parts I could.
I said no.
I said it loudly. I said it to myself.
I stopped beating myself up about the fact that I had lost the baby weight and then gained weight back. I stopped apologizing for friends coming over to a not super clean house. I stopped apologizing for canceling with friends. Even friends who don’t have kids and didn’t get it; sorry/not sorry. My kid had a rough day. I can’t hang out with you.
My blog, my etsy shop, my sponsorships, all that, are so enjoyable for me, and hopefully for you. But I didn’t write or sewing during the day these past 6 months. I focused on my kids (and my iPhone in between my kids) and my house and what was really literally in front of me. Yes, an iPhone means I can pop around on social media while kids are happily playing without me, or I’m rocking someone down for a nap. But carving out hunks of the day for things that don’t relate specifically to my family’s needs simply couldn’t happen. I didn’t want it to happen.
Maybe simplifying and saying “no” to extraneous or above & beyond obligations meant more time for the little people in front of me, the ones who simultaneously drive me crazy and make me swoon. I’m suddenly bitten by the “they’re growing up” bug. I mean, it’s excruciating at times when sleep eludes us all and I simply want to go to the bathroom alone, but it’s true that having a five year old changes the dynamic of the household. (Is that a saying? If not, it should be.)
I hope simplifying means more time for things that feed me spiritually, like speaking for the kickoff of a Theology on Tap series for Saint Amrbose Blessed is She’s Lenten Retreat, like being the MC at a women’s conference “Finding Your Fiat,” like prayer time with my husband. I hope simplifying means a dirtier house but kids who get a mom to play with them during the doldrums of the afternoon. I hope it means connecting in a meaningful way with my loved ones.
All this to say, I hope you’ve got your word or phrase for 2016. And that it resonates with you!