I have a hard time saying “no.” And I know, “no” is not a four-letter word, or eight-letter, or however many letters it takes to make it sound complicated. “No” should be a clean-cut breakaway from whatever we were holding onto or whatever was holding onto us.
As a mom with four young kids, I say “No” or “No thank you” quite often. “No, you can’t climb/jump/twirl on the table.” “No, the books should be put away instead of strewn across the floor.” “No, you can’t eat rocks/boogers/legos.” No, no, no.
I also have to say “no” to myself. Some days it feels like motherhood is one gigantic exercise in self-denial. “No, you can’t read right now, the dinner needs to be prepared.” “No, there isn’t time for you to sign up for that exercise class, the kids have art camp/husband has to work/the baby needs to nap.” “No, you shouldn’t get 18 lbs. of fresh apricots to make jam, even though it’s delicious, the work involved is too much for this weekend (true story, folks).” No, no, no.
I was really getting frustrated, especially about that apricot one. I love to create, be it a sewing project, a blog post, or yes, close to 10 pints of jam. A lot of these projects are for someone else or in service for my family, but they fill me with joy as well. Here was a good project, that would bring me some fulfillment and something tasty to the table. I felt like I was drowning in self-denial, completely trapped by the constraints of family responsibilities.
Thank goodness I have been working on a project that involves some deep reflection and reading on St. Paul’s Christ Hymn found in Philippians 2:5-11.