The Art of Saying No


This post originally started out as a post about how I decided to simplify my life by cleaning out my purse. Because I’m too lazy and/or sick and/or tired to actually clean out my kitchen.

The contents of my purse ran the gamut from “uh, weird” to “ew, gross.” Let’s just say I have everything in there from match box cars to half-melted crayons to children’s art projects that may have once been edible.

Yeah, even I couldn’t post that, even if it did come with pictures.

And then I got to thinking about my children, and how, if I really wanted to simplify my life, I’d actually learn to say the word no a lot (A LOT) more often than I do.

**Not to them. They hear no a lot.**

See, I am the team mom for my daughter’s soccer team. Last Friday, we made the banner. At my house, which was a mess because my house is always a mess. I didn’t want to have it here, but no one else volunteered, so I went with it, even though the magic housecleaning fairies have well and truly abandoned me, leaving me to do a mediocre job of it on my own.

I did a passable cleaning job for the team. I mopped floors (which were dirty again within thirty seconds between kids and dogs and the cat and M), did all the dishes and wiped down counters. I vacuumed and put away toys. I did all that crap, and then wanted to pass out from exhaustion. Unfortunately, I then had to sit down and make the banner and be a reasonably nice hostess.

So, big weirdo that I am, when the email came in asking me to volunteer to coach my son’s soccer team, I said yes.

Dammit. What is wrong with me?

As I’ve admitted on this blog before, I know nothing about soccer. I am, perhaps, the worst soccer coach ever. One of my friends also coaches, and she said she couldn’t do the younger kids because she’s a self-professed “soccer snob.” Not me, man. Me, my team is the one where one kid is trying to catch butterflies, another kid is crying and I’m carrying him/her around, thus leaving me with only one kid who is actually making any effort to play soccer. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

But here’s the thing: I should have said no.

I don’t have time to coach. I don’t want to coach. I offered to do it for Chewey because I did it for Monk, and I feel like I need to be fair. Still, I have other things I’m up to right now. I’m judging two different writing contests, I’m working full time, and I’m carting children from school to soccer or swimming lessons. I’m on the PTA, and I’m trying (trying being the operative word) to keep the house at least reasonably cleanish. Or, to have less than a full load of dishes in the sink at any given time.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that I’m writing a book?

I keep thinking, if I gave up something, I could be a rocking super mom, because honestly, everything gets done, but it’s a bit half-assed, which might explain why my soccer team is the one catching bugs and making dandelion necklaces while everyone else is playing soccer. And these are boys.

I’d stop this behavior if I didn’t find it so stinking entertaining.

The one thing I could reasonably give up–the book–is the one thing I can’t bring myself to do, because it’s the only thing I have that’s exclusively mine. And I need something for myself. If I didn’t write, I’d go back to doing what I did before I started the books: I’d cook. And, given my stomach problems, I can reasonably foresee this being bad for both my digestive system and my weight.

I’d like to keep my sanity–it helps with little things like employment and motherhood–so it looks like the book has to stay.

But I really, really need to learn the art of saying no.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Saying No”

  1. OK, here are my two cents!

    I learned to say “no” in law school, because I could use the excuse of law school. Then when I didn’t have that excuse, a friend who is older and wiser said, when I was bitching about having to go down to Reno for some family obligation, “What will happen if you say ‘no?'”

    And then I realized that the world wouldn’t end. I could say no. I could cancel plans. I could change my mind. Seriously, best world lesson EVER.

    You can change your mind, even about soccer. So what’s the worse that would happen? Chewey gets a different team? Skips it one fall? It’s OK. He won’t notice.

    You can call people up and say, “You know, I’m buried. I can’t.” The next time someone asks you something, tell them, “I’ll get back to you,” because then you can think about it and figure out a nice way to say no.

    1. I know… I KNOW! And that’s the worst part of the whole “I need to say no” gig. I know I can. But you know it’s bad when a counselor looks at you and says, “You need to learn how to say no.”

      I’ve always had some excuse for saying “no.” I mean, I had grad school, where I was working, and going to school, and writing the massive thesis. But I didn’t do it then. I tried once, and i got yelled at for four hours until I caved. I think it’s why I hate the holidays… Because I’ll never do exactly what I want, and I will cave to the demands of others. I just won’t SAY NO.

      Gah!

      I guess it’s not a wonder why I’m such a basket case. Though hey, at least the wretched coaching will give me fodder for the blog. Because, let’s face, I’m an awful coach. (What do you bet my co-coach is a massive soccer snob and won’t like my “I teach Special Ed” approach to soccer?) Now THAT would be funny to watch.

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