October 15, 2015

The Phrase that Taught Me to Say No.

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I’m saying no a lot these days.

Lately, I’ve been asked to sit on a few different committees. Most are related to causes I feel passionately about.

Since I’ve never been asked to be on a committee before, it was quite flattering.

“I’m on a committee,” I imagined telling a friend. “I have to go now. I have this committee meeting. It’s for this really important committee I’m on.”

So I was a little surprised when I found myself replying No to being on the committees.

It wasn’t easy. I’m a people pleaser, a helper. I believe in service.


I’m also a working mom of two young children. A wife. A daughter.

Time has never been scarcer for me than it is right now.

At first, I wrestled with the decision to say no. I felt guilty. Other people with lives at least as busy as mine seem to find time to Do All The Things.

They work, they parent, they volunteer. They even manage to weed their gardens, while ours grows over.

But I’m here to say I can’t do All The Things. I can’t even do most of the things—at least not well.

So I made a list of my top priorities: My family. My health. My writing career. And a distant fourth— keeping our home from getting too biohazard-y.

I’m already holding too much. I’m already overwhelmed most of the time.

And yet, I still feel a sliver of guilt.

So I came up with a mantra that soothes my guilt. When I recently read an essay about a mom who realized it “wasn’t her time” for cooking fancy meals, it became clear to me:

It’s not my season to volunteer.

When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I volunteered. I even invented a volunteer position at my elementary school library when I was nine. Volunteering is in my blood. So I have no doubt that when my kids are older, I will find ways to give back.

But right now?

It’s not my season.

And I guess it’s also not my season to learn to garden, or become part of the tiny house movement, or travel extensively. To become vegan, or be a minimalist, or learn to sew.

This is my season: Kissing my preschooler’s still-luscious cheeks, knowing that soon, they will narrow like my son’s have. Dreaming up stories and spilling them out. Being perpetually behind an endless conveyor belt of laundry and dirty dishes. Learning to communicate better with my husband. Meditating and exercising whenever I can. Squeezing in a coffee date with a friend. Watching my parents play on the floor with my kids. Sinking into the couch next to my feverish boy.

This is my season. It’s a challenging, gorgeous season. If I add anything else, no matter how tempting, I’m afraid I will miss too much of this season.

It’s one I want to be present for, one I will only pass through once.




More goodness from Lynn: 

The Bad Habit that Almost Ruined My Marriage (& What I did to Fix it).

Self-Care for Moms.

The Upwards Spiral.


Author: Lynn Shattuck

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Rahul Gaywala Pixoto 


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