After working all day, filling up my car with gas, getting my oil changed, and going to the grocery store, I was finally ready to head home.
Then I saw the text messages from my kiddos. Seems they were experiencing some french fry and milkshake cravings. I happily obliged, since I was right in the center of town, and swinging through the drive-thru would hardly take any time at all.
Also, it was an excuse to get Diet Coke and I didn’t have to leave my vehicle.
So I came home with a carful of groceries and a veritable fast food feast. I put away the groceries, and sprawled out on the couch.
Just as I was starting to doze off, my daughter came downstairs. It seems she needed to go to the dollar store. She had recruited her brother for this round of “Let’s Convince Mom To Take Us Even Though She Just Got Home.”
They know how effective that is, especially because they are teenagers now and don’t exactly jump to do things with me, so I often take it when I can get it.
The truth was, I didn’t want to go. I was dead tired and all I wanted to do was nothing while I watched the Property Brothers turn home after home into a masterpiece because I think everything they touch turns to gold.
However, I’d barely seen them all day. I was working, then running around, and the feeling that I had nothing left for them was weighing heavily on me. So I agreed, even though I was so tired that I couldn’t see straight.
The trip wasn’t successful. They wanted a bunch of junk and they wanted me to buy it for them. They were taking a long time and my dogs were barking so loud, I almost sat on the floor of the Dollar Store and tried out a plastic foot massager.
My back had been hunched over the computer all day, and because I don’t like to take a lot of trips, I’d carried in heavy loads of groceries.
I wanted to rest my feet. I needed Advil. I wasn’t equipped to deal with this trip and we ended up arguing the whole way home.
So I did that motherly thing. The thing we all do when we feel unseen and unheard.
I cried and told them I felt taken for granted; invisible; like I didn’t matter and they didn’t care how tired I was.
My daughter reminded me I should have said no.
She was right.
This has been an issue I’ve had with myself since I’ve had kids and I’m constantly working on it. My first instinct when they ask me for something is, Sure, I can pull that off.
But just because I can stop and get that slushie, I can take them to a friend’s house or let them have a sleepover, I can get them those damn Takis they always ask for but never finish, doesn’t mean I have to.
I have to show my kids I love them in other ways. Not doing everything they ask me to doesn’t mean I don’t care enough or I am not a good mother.
You can show your kids you love them, by telling them no.
It is okay to tell them you are too tired and you aren’t in the mood for company, or to run to the store to get ice cream.
It is okay for kids to occupy themselves.
It is okay for kids to fend for themselves.
It is okay for kids to hear, “No, not right now.”
It is okay to make your kids wait.
You did not become a mother to spread yourself so thin you end up crying on the way home from the damn Dollar Tree.
You did not become a mother to be a servant.
You did not become a mother to be on call and answer every question, meet every need, and itch every scratch.
You became a mother to raise strong, kind, independent kids who have confidence, are resilient, and don’t mind hearing the word no.
Yes, it’s our natural instinct to put their needs before ours. There are times that’s necessary and called for.
Just make sure you know it’s not every time.
If sprawling out on the sofa is what you need after a long day instead of taking your kids to do something they want to do, think long and hard before you push yourself to do it anyway.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my eighteen years of parenting, it’s that your kids will be better off if you tell them “no” every once in a while. I know this now, even though I still struggle with enforcing this boundary. I want my kids to see me prioritizing myself and my wellbeing sometimes, so that hopefully they can do the same too.