It's Okay to Say No
Updated: Dec 4, 2022
I said, "Bah Humbug!" to the annual holiday letter. Even after my daughter told me I had to write about our new puppy and a friend sent me a text asking when he was going to receive his copy of the letter, I made the decision to be Scrooge this year, so to speak.
I spent this year really reflecting on my life, working to forgive myself and let go of the past, and finally start being who I want to be. This last part has been the hardest as I realize that I work so hard to please others and worry about what others may think of my decisions that I fear the repercussions of just saying no.
My son turned 10 in November. He's now a 4th grader and still thinks school is boring and too easy. The effort it takes to negotiate and ensure completion of homework and GT projects tends to be more work for Mom than for him. I keep thinking he'll mature and start taking more responsibility, but I'm starting to think that's never going to happen. I'm learning that raising boys is very, very different than girls. He still doesn't eat fruits or vegetables of any kind - unless you count fruit snacks. He has quit eating peanut butter sandwiches, but now eats mac 'n cheese for the first time in his life. He'll eat three hamburgers in one sitting and cheese pizza is a staple. Other than that, it's bread and a whole lot of fluids. He doesn't fear saying no, even when I tell him that food is for his own good. And despite his odd diet, he seems to outgrow his clothes and shoes every time I blink. He's still playing tennis. He has moved up a couple of levels in the last year and absolutely loves it. Other than that, he has followed in his sister's footsteps in reading and watching the Anime/Manga and plays every kind of technology - DS, Wii, computer, an old phone of mine that only plays games, a Sony play thing of some sort....this Mom loses track.
My daughter is 12 and in the 7th grade. She's at that age where she disappears into her room ... for like ... ever. It's kind of nice. It's kind of weird. Her brother, who still wants her to play games with him often, doesn't always understand. It has been a transition year, for sure, which is why I'm thankful that I have such great kids who can adapt. My daughter is still so good at just going and doing her homework without even being told. She's a beautiful artist, and I'm so glad she finally listened to me and signed up for Art class this year. It has been a nice, needed break in her schedule. She's also in year two of Choir and plans to continue in high school. And - the big news - I broke down and got her a cell phone this year. OMG. It wasn't new. No ... to that. It was one of my old phones. But, since she has so much work in school using phones with Google Classroom now and she's walking to the bus on her own at both homes - as a single mom - I just felt better with her having it. She communicates with me a lot every day now, too, from school and her father's house, which I love, and makes it totally worth the investment.
Oh, then there's me. I transitioned to teaching 7th grade for the first time this year. This was my choice. The age group is different, that's for sure. Not only am I seeing it at home, but at work now, as well. The curriculum isn't any different than 9th grade with a balance of reading and writing, which is nice. I even got to teach Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And the team - a total blessing. I love working with women my age who are so darned funny. I needed them in my life. It's funny how things work out like that. I've also had some really great women outside of work who have been supportive this year and become great friends, as well. In addition, I started ballroom dance classes, which brings me great joy. I'm currently on a short break due to a small accident in which I dropped a cleaning object on my foot in October. Fingers crossed, I'll be dancing again very soon. I also won tickets to see a new artist, Brandon Lay, perform at the 93Q country radio station this summer. That was so cool! And finally, I couldn't have made it without my parents this year. They are always there when I need them. Mom and Dad came over every morning to ensure my daughter learned to set the alarm on the house, lock the door, and made it out the door on time for the bus since her school doesn't allow early drop-offs. My dad was instrumental in getting my house fixed after the hurricane, as well. It would still be in shambles without him. Since August, he's helped organize a new fence, roof, and painters for the inside that had water damage. There are no words to express my gratitude for all that he did the last few months. I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. And the bonus - we took the most amazing family vacation with the entire family in Florida this year of which we are forever grateful. The kids still talk about how Margaritaville was the most beautiful hotel they have ever seen.
And yes, as mentioned earlier, the kids and I made the decision to rescue a puppy in August. She's a terrier mix and seven months old now. Her name is Luna. My daughter and I like to think it's in reference to Harry Potter. Just don't say that to my son. The puppy has many nicknames, though - Beast, Trouble, White Terror. There isn't much left of the bottom of my favorite recliner. She's working on the bottom of the couch now. Bah! Breathe in, breathe out. The puppy phase isn't longer than a year, right? It's a good thing that she's cute, and we are training her to be a well-mannered dog...eventually.
I realize, like Mr. Scrooge, reflection is important for change. Sometimes, one has to step back, observe his/her life, and accept that the past can't be altered. Those are lessons that we can learn from or choose to ignore. It's our present actions that determine if we will change the direction of the future.
I know that I do want change in my life. I'm ready to tread in a new direction, which means saying no to people, old habits, and things that no longer serve me. Otherwise, the dreams that I desire to chase may send me down a more treacherous path. And so I'm ready. I'm following my heart and remembering, it's okay to say no.
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