Since this is a site led by women writers and (mostly) women readers, I thought I’d chat today about one of the questions I’m asked most often – which is how I juggle being a mom to my 5 year old and 3 year old (and our 8 year old very pampered and spoiled dog!) while still maintaining a viable and bustling career.
As I said, this is one of the most common questions that is posed to me, and my go-to answer in the past has always been that I have a great babysitter, and I’m not shy about asking for help when I need it. But recently, maybe with this answer in the back of my mind, I’ve started to pay more attention to how I actually do things, and I’ve noticed a pattern. A good pattern, or at least I hope it is!
And that is that I don’t hesitate to say “no.” I say it often, liberally and without any guilt. I say it when I’m already overcommitted, I say it when I’m to tired to do something that’s asked of me, I say it when – let’s be honest – I just don’t feel like dealing with something and I’d rather spend time in my sweatpants at home with my kids. And as I say that tiny little – but very empowering word – it occurs to me why we, as women, don’t say no more often, and why, when we do, we feel so dang guilty over it. Why are we the ones who are asked to take on everything? Why SHOULD we be the ones who are asked to take on everything? And when we finally decide not to take on everything, why do we feel badly about it?
Well, I’m not a therapist, and I won’t even try to be, but I will say that there is some sort of idealized superwoman in my generation of women: we’re in our thirties, we’ve had great careers, we’ve had great children, and well, we like to be sure that it all keeps staying GREAT. And also, we’re self-reliant and independent and very, very good at what we do. So when we’re asked to do one more thing – whether it’s for our child’s school or a project for work – well, one more thing doesn’t feel like too much. But then it’s like that stereotypical house of cards: when you add one more card, it all comes toppling down.
I’ve felt this way recently – that I’ve added one too many cards – between my book promotion and my kids’ needs and my husband’s new job and my travel demands and all of the little things that add up to life. And so, I’ve started saying no. I have more time to myself, more nights to watch crappy TV if I so choose, more hours to feel rested and slowly, the circles under my eyes are fading (though let’s be honest, they’ll never fade completely). I highly recommend this. Say no. Say it once, then try it again, and pretty soon, it gets easy. No no no no no no no. See? Now, it flies out of me without even a second thought. :)
Allison Winn Scotch
New York Times bestselling author
The One That I Want (Random House)