Disappointing others

Becoming a mother has freed me in many ways, and also forced me to set boundaries where in the past I had none. It’s a weird contradiction, but I’m compelled to protect in ways I hadn’t in the past. It’s easier to forget to protect ourselves than a precious tiny life we’re suddenly made custodians of.

Balancing motherhood, family life, community life, ministry, friendship and owning & running a business with self-care and understanding personal capacity has been interesting. It has also revealed that avoiding disappointing others was a decision-making factor in so many cases, despite my general understanding of boundaries and discernment. Our days are full, and choosing what deserves to fill them isn’t easy.

I’m having to disappoint others a lot more these days. Ugh. For 15 years, I was always the first to say yes, and make things happen. I’m just not that girl in this season, and I may never be again. It’s for a good cause though. As hard as it is, my choosing to say no honours those I have been first called to serve and love, and it honours my own calling.


...for 15 years, I was always the first to say yes...

In my learning process (because friend, this is still so new to me), using this filter has helped me assess and doubt myself less (although the doubt does always follow me – my hyper-diligence is wonderful and awful all at the same time).

1. Does my work serve my family, or is my family serving my work?

It is SO EASY to switch this paradigm, but if I’m going to stay working for the next 20 – 25 years, and I’m in this for the long haul, my work needs to serve the needs of my family, not the other way around. When I’m feeling busy, fulfilled, challenged and connected at work, I’m way better at home. When I’m exhausted, drained and feeling disconnected from my strengths, I’m fairly useless at home (and cranky, which is worse than useless – which leads to point #2). This question could easily switch out work for other things that take up huge amounts of our time: volunteer opportunities, hobbies or even things like technology.

2. What is the true cost of this opportunity, beyond financial cost? Is it worth it?

I’m learning that someone always pays – sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s my husband, and sometimes it’s our dear girl. Weighing out the cost is hard! I was totally okay when it cost me dearly, but it’s not okay to make my husband and daughter pay beyond what is reasonable and fair all around. And what is reasonable? We’re still figuring that out, honestly.

3. Remember: this too shall pass, and time moves so quickly.

I struggled deeply with having to say no to an event very recently, as it did disappoint others and it meant possibly damaging a valued relationship and missing out on possible future opportunities. However, when I put it into perspective, I only have one more year with my daughter at home. Just over 365 days. And then I lose these precious, God-given opportunities right at home, and I’ll never get them back. These days of her being tiny and dependent on me are so few in the grand scheme of things. Time moves so freakishly fast that I know that this season is short. Other seasons will serve other purposes, as they always have.

As I said, I’m still really learning about this. And man, do I wish I could permanently ditch the “no” guilt. It seems to sneak up on me at the worst of times. Sometimes I just need to say no because I’m simply more tired at this stage than I have ever been (long days of back to back meetings paired with daycare pickups and meal prep and evening commitments KILL ME right now and leave no room for joy).

So, what about you: what have you used as your filter? What has worked (or not worked at all)? You’re probably not perfect at this too – but I’d love to know how you deal with saying no to some really good things. Maybe we can learn together?