The other day as I watched my eight-year-old son make his own breakfast on a Sunday morning (without asking for any help) I found myself thinking, “Wow. I’m so proud of him.” And then, thankfully, I had enough presence of mind to hit pause and correct myself by saying, “Wait, wait, wait. I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m so proud of myself.”
As you can imagine, no young child wants to make their own breakfast.
They want you to do it for them. I’m pretty sure they want you to do everything for them. But that’s where boundaries come into place. For some reason (can’t remember why), several years ago I decided that I was no longer going to make breakfast for my children. At the ages of six and eight they were fully capable of microwaving pancakes, toasting a bagel, opening a container of yogurt, or pouring a bowl of cereal.
So, peace out. I’m out.
At first it was hard. While I was pouring my cup of tea, they’d look at me with their puppy dog eyes and pouty cheeks and say, “Mommy, pleeeeeeeease can you help me spread the Nutella? I just can’t do it.” And each and every time I held my ground by saying, “Nope. You’re capable of doing it yourself. Keep trying,” and then I’d leave the room. It hurt, I’m not going to lie. But I committed to not caving and I held up my end of my bargain with myself.
I think my husband thought I was a jerk. Whenever he was in the kitchen when I nonchalantly rejected their huffing and puffing and pleading for help, he’d roll his eyes, swoop in to save the Nutella day, and look at me as if to say, “Geeze Jeez lady. You literally grew these children in your body and now you can’t even toast a bagel for them?”
Like I was the Wicked Wintsch of the West or something.
But I stayed strong as I sauntered out of the room to return to my bed to read a book or to my office to start writing one.
And therein lies the beauty of saying no, my friends. If you find it hard to say no to other people, think about it in a completely different way — you’re not saying no to someone else, you’re saying yes to yourself!
Saying no to a Saturday afternoon block party could mean saying yes to that nap you’ve been waiting two years to take; saying no to an exhausting career could mean saying yes to fun collaborations that excite you; saying no to attending the next PTA meeting at school could mean saying yes to a date night with your partner — remember those? Continue Reading