NO Is Not A Dirty Word
As a mum saying NO comes easy - except when it really matters! Here's my tale of being schooled in the art of saying N-O when it counted...
Let's Start At The Beginning...
Over the last few weeks I have totally been schooled in the art of saying N-O. It's taken 33 years, a sick 3-year-old, an unsettled 5-week newborn and mastitis for me to realise that sometimes for your own wellbeing and sanity, you have to say no and break plans.
I know many of you are probably thinking, ummm this is your big lightbulb moment? But I'm a self-confessed people pleaser, the person that would always take on extra work for the "experience", the person who accepts a job and then agrees to do things outside of the job description without pushing back, the person that avoids conflict at all costs and the person that will say yes even if it may not always suit me. Basically I would rather cut off a finger than upset or let anyone down.
So the night - hell the weekend- of Armageddon ( which coincided with Maia's 5-week leap), came as a timely lesson in The Art Of Saying No.
Let Me Set The Scene...
It was 5:30pm on Saturday afternoon, we'd not long come home from a birthday party and I was folding washing and making kid's dinners when everything started going pear-shaped. Maia suddenly decided sleeping was overrated and only wanted to be held, Samson (who had been a bit off colour since the Thursday) starting running fevers, and my hubby was on his way out the door for a birthday party.
I knew I was in for a long night when every time I put my little koala bear down in her bed she would shriek her lungs out like a big brown bear. On a Nurofen high, Sammy started scooting up and down the hallway on his big Tonka truck, Rex and Frankie becoming collateral damage. It felt like Armageddon had arrived. In between the chaos, shitty nappies and kids shrieking, I had heated up my dinner to beyond boiling and yet still wolfed it down stone cold.
With Sammy refusing to go to bed, and Maia back on the boob for what felt like the umpteen time in three hours, I try reading books to settle my jacked-up toddler. Then I smell it - burning plastic. Yep, there's the aforementioned Tonka truck slowly melting in front of the heater... FFS I muttered under my breath as I leap into action, babe in arms.
By this stage we were going on 10pm, my arms heavy from holding Maia, my boobs aching from her constant feeding and my sanity shot from trying to calm down a toddler on a high.
Midnight rolls around and I give Maia a dream feed and head to bed. Of course this is the night to dogs start a marathon yelping session at 1pm and off I stomp downstairs to shush them, threatening to put them outside in the cold. However everybody in my house knows I'm the Queen of empty threats - even when it comes to my fur children!
Back to bed I trot, but unable to sleep I toss and turn one ear listening out for my hubby who's yet to come home (he rolls at 2:30pm), the other listening out for Maia's breathing (I have this silly fear that she will stop breathing and I won't realise even though she sleeps in a bassinet right next to me!!) and of course my unwell Sammy-bear, who by 3am is coughing. Up again to check him and his temps have flared, so another trip downstairs for Panadol and cuddles for him. By this time it's almost 4am, I've had zero sleep and it's time for Maia's next feed.
Needless to say by 8am Sunday morning, I'm emotional, tired and cranky too. The folding and ironing I had hoped to finish the night before is still strewn over the dining room table, the never-ending washing still needs to be done, and the sunlight streaming through the windows is doing a great job of highlighting that I need to get my duster out!
Then my phone starts beeping with messages from people wanting to visit. My heart starts beating faster and I break out in a little sweat, I just don't think I can deal with any additional stress.
For me, visitors means making sure the house looks clean and tidy, organising treats and being showered and looking somewhat like I have it together - which I most certainly don't on this day. The flashing message "Can we visit this afternoon" is taunting me. I know what I need to do, but I really don't want to. I agonise over answering, trying to work out what to say, almost in tears. My husband who's on Maia holding duty as I get to all at the unfinished housework, looks at me incredulously, and says "Just say no."
"But I can't!" I say. " Yes you can", he says. "it's not a big deal."
Not Open For Visitors...
So 30 minutes later after writing and rewriting the message, I simply tell the truth. I write "I am so sorry, but I have been up all night with the kids. Can we make it next weekend when I am more prepared?" I did it, my imaginary "No Visitors Today" sign was up and guess what, the whole world did not collapse. Of course, my would-be visitors understood.
As Sunday afternoon wore on and Maia continued to only want to be held, Sammy was still unwell and I could feel dreaded mastitis coming in - I did the unthinkable (well for me anyway) I kept the imaginary "Not Open For Visitors" sign up, and cancelled all my visits for the coming days. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do, like somehow cancelling plans and admitting things have gone awry is a sign that I wasn't coping, and failing miserably as the hostess with the mostess. But it's exactly what I needed to do get on top of the situation. Clearing my schedule instantly gave me relief that for the next few days I could focus on getting Maia through her 5-week mental leap (as Wonder Weeks so kindly informed me she was going through a stormy period hence her behaviour) and into some sort of sleep routine, Sammy's health on track and bring my mental state back from the brink!
Indeed, NO is NOT A DIRTY WORD. We survived the ordeal, rang in Maia's 6 weeks with smiles and yes, we're OPEN FOR VISITORS once more.