This is my last post for Momalom’s Five for Ten. The topic is Yes in honor of Life After Yes, by Aidan Donnelly Rowley. How perfect is it that it’s being released today? I also want to send out a huge thank you to Jen and Sarah of Momalom. This has been a tremendous experience, I’m so pleased to have been involved, to have read some amazing posts and to have met some fascinating people.
For days I’ve been contemplating what to write for yes. Inspiration isn’t striking. Beyond the obvious, things like my marriage, children, house, my career, really what is yes?
When I think about it, I keep coming back to the same thing. I start to consider all the roles that I play in my life. The people I choose to be. In some way I’ve said yes to all of them. Those like wife and mother, quite consciously. Others, like daughter, granddaughter, and sister, just are. Even the role of friend, though arguably conscious, is not one we often think of as choosing. Friendships develop, evolve.
The best way for me to explore yes as a concept, not just a word, is through a discussion of all the roles that I play. Who I am to others, rather than who I am to myself. It’s a perfect illustration.
As women and mothers our lives are often defined by the things we do for others. We put the needs of others first and our own are often last. We might say yes to caring for our children, nurturing relationships with our partners or our friends, our careers, managing a house, writing our blogs, helping a neighbour or a family member, volunteering, activities for ourselves and for our children, to endless responsibilities. I say yes to all of these things. I must.
And yet, I never feel like I’ve done enough and I constantly feel overwhelmed. All of these roles, most that are about who we are to others, define us, shape us, and make us whole. Without them, I daresay, we would lose ourselves. How odd is that? To feel overwhelmed and beholden while at the same time fulfilled. Where is the middle ground?
As I struggle to cope with my own chaos, working, mothering, connecting, living, I’d like to find a place where my sense of peace and contentment comes not from the constant drive to achieve, to get it done and well, to say yes, but rather from a place of good enough. A place where I can freely say no, mean it, and not worry over it. Because, though I do say no, as often as I can, I fret and guilt myself into believing that a better person would have said yes.
And yes, I believe that. I believe that I should be able to do it all.
My heart tells me that I should be what I’m supposed to be to all of these people, in all of these situations. And not just that, but I should be doing it well. And that’s the crux of it. This yard stick I’m measuring myself against, it’s impossible to meet. Maybe it’s just my ego getting in the way. But I don’t think so, I really feel this deep inside me. I don’t entirely understand it myself. I know how ridiculous it is. I know I can’t really do it all. So where does this come from now and why does it have such a power over me?
For now, I’m still saying yes. I’ll be all of these people; I will fill all of these roles. But I’m putting myself on notice. It can’t continue. I used to think there was no alternative, that this is who I was.
Now? I don’t want it to continue. But I don’t know what to change. Is it a matter of making the hard decisions? Or is it something more? I used to think the only way was to cut all the things that mattered the most to me. I believed that the sacrfice had to be mine, and mine alone. Now I see that’s not true. Or at least I’m starting to. Now I see that if I can feel whole and well, that maybe the rest will fall more comfortably into place.
This alone is a huge step forward. I just have to really figure it out. What does it look like? What will have to change? When is it okay to say no?
When is just being good, enough?
I’m figuring that out and on my way to learning when to say no.