Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"The United States Government just asked us to save the world. Anyone wanna say no?"

Let me start by saying this is NOT about the U.S. government or even about saving the world - though sometimes we do get our priorities confused. It's about something I like to call "Ode to Opting Out" - also known as just saying no OR getting our priorities straight.

We have many demands placed on us. That's no secret. What provides me with endless hours of amazement is reading about people who say Yes to too many things: Running kids around the wide world to sports practices, music lessons, playdates AND extra tutoring; Attending every birthday party, baby shower, wedding shower or reception for which an invitation is received; Doing extra projects at work, taking the lead on group projects at school, forever granting small favors and requests for neighbors, family and friends. You may be getting the idea. . .

Here's the short of it: I'm pretty much a do-er. I want to help. I want to come to the rescue. I want to be jonny-on-the-spot. I want to save the day. I want to serve. I want to say "yes" when asked. I want to be there for someone whenever they need me.

But as the years tick tock by, it seems the only small perks I get from getting older are the small nuggets of perspective Time and Experience leave behind for me to pick up and treasure. For instance, I'm increasingly aware of the disparity between how much I'm willing to do versus how much I can do. My willingness always exceeds my capacity. Not earth-shattering. But there it is, nonetheless.

How does this translate into action? I do what I can when I can. And I don't feel guilty. Or, at least, I try really hard not to. And most times, I succeed. I read about a good "yardstick" for guilt recently in some "how to be a sane mom" book. When Guilt rears her ugly ol' head (yes, Guilt is a "she"), you should ask yourself "do I regret (fill in the blank)"? If the answer is no, Guilt has got to go. . .

[Title quote is from "Armageddon"]


Caroline said...

I say no to everything... yes really, everything.

Jen said...

I like the guilt theory!
My theory is to say yes to what I can and no to what I can't. Being a mom of tons of small kiddos (i am sure caroline can agree) I find myself needing more help than I would like to ask for. So my theory on that is ask who ever I want and if they have a problem w/ it they can't complain because they said yes. And I don't feel guilty about asking because if they don't want to then they can say no. and anybody i ask to babysit i let know my theory because i hate when they offer to help and then begrudge it. anyway blah blah blah, i am done!

trina said...

i really only try to say yes when i CAN do it. when i can and i say yes i feel guilty because i really didn't WANT to in the first place or did but now don't. u catch me? does that make me totally horrible?! when i have asked i also get the whole "well, i guess so... for how long?" like my kids are totally not worth it...ugh!!

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