Learning to Say No

September quickens the year.

The skies here in my piece of Ohio are flooded deep blue-indigo; when I catch the sun glinting on a new patch of gold or russet in the tree tops as I crest the hills around my town in my trusty van Claudine, I am literally stunned at how beautiful this season is.

But I barely have time to process it in this month of fits and starts, of crowded schedules, of homework and lunches and fundraisers. I'm too busy racing to the next thing.

And that, my dear friends, saddens me. The beginning of "Pursuit" by Stephen Dobyns keeps ringing in my ears:
Each thing I do I rush through so I can do
something else. In such a way do the days pass -
a blend of stock car racing and the never
ending building of a gothic cathedral.
Through the windows of my speeding car, I see
all that I love falling away: books unread,
jokes untold, landscapes unvisited. And why?
What treasure do I expect in my future?

Despite my best laid plans - plans no doubt made in years past as I changed diaper after diaper and tried to mentally push the clock a bit further toward nap time - we are creeping perilously close to becoming an over-booked family.

What I didn't know then was how much there was out there, how many sports and activities and enrichments and school events and volunteering needs would be arrayed in front of me like a feast.

This one is WONDERFUL! These are DELIGHTFUL! And THAT one, well, you simply MUST have some of that - it's GOOD for you!

I attended a parent information meeting last week for yet another activity, this one for Huck, and I spent the entire time sitting off to one side, my hands tucked underneath my legs. No errant hands raising up on a cloud of guilt for me, no ma'am!

Tonight, Knute had an event at church that he co-chaired; he took both Becky and Huck with him to see their friends and to get them out of my hair so I could run several errands with just Tom. When I walked in the door, lugging bags of water softener salt behind me, and Becky wanted to know if we could head right back out the door for a second event at school that night.

"No!" I snapped, then softened. "We can't do everything, honey."

"Okay," she said, the corners of her smile turning down.

It's so hard to say no to helping out.

It's so hard to say no to worthwhile activities.

It's so hard to say no to my children and thus be the source of their disappointment.

But it's so necessary.

Time is a slippery fish, my friends. No sooner than you wrap your hands around it, it flails, passes through your fingers, and is gone. All you're left with is the memory of how it shimmered in the sun.

While I race through my days, from one busy thing to the next, pinning my hopes on that shiny, glorious, and ever-happy Someday, today slips through my grasp and is gone.

Today is the treasure.

I want to embrace that, to live it, but I know that first I need to learn to say no, and not just to my children.

I need to learn to say no to myself, to that small voice that urges me to grab all the goodies I can from the Feast of Busyness.

Your plate is already full, I remind myself. Enjoy it.


This song reminds me to just slow down. I big-puffy-heart* Third Day.

I'm linking this up to Then Sings My Soul over at Signs, Miracles, and Wonders; go visit Amy and get inspired.

*That's a total Jenny-ism

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