Monday, January 17, 2011

A Whole New Year


The Matron returns, like a well-rested and oiled machine, ready for Action with a clearly capital A.

Her respite from the blog--and her resignation as the President of the Parent Teacher Organization for one of her children's schools, and resignation from one of the five committees she serves on at work --- and some degree of reflection, taught her this: say no.

Now, 'no' is a word that doesn't come naturally to the Matron.

Merrick: "Mama can you bwing me some milk while I watch TV?"

Matron: "Of course!" (alternate answer: you can certainly get that milk yourself)

HWCBN: "Mom, can you iron my shirt for debate. I need it in about four minutes."

Matron: "Sure!" (alternate answer -- and you know this -- 'here's the iron.')

Scarlett: "Mom, can you drive me to Wisconsin for a sleepover after rehearsal and then pick me up for voice lessons in the morning?"

Matron: (pause). "Uh. . . " (choking a little). "Let's consider the sleepover thing for awhile." (Note that Wisconsin is just ten minutes away but it sounds dramatic--and, ever incapable of a clear, unilateral 'no,' yours truly hedges).

No is not her strongest suit.

Yesterday, she found herself agreeing to help a friend in need. This friend is suffering consequences of life choices and actions -- deep tissue, systemic consequences. Huge. Let's talk legal, physical, foundational and all due to addiction and some seriously bad choices that limped left of the law. But not only was the Matron unable to say 'no' to help, so as not to participate in the dysfunction, she actually volunteered for more duty!!

But today, "NO" appeared before her. It glittered on the hallway, surfaced in the early waking hours before dawn. "NO," a friend once said, is the most loving word you can say to a child. After Boc broke a glass of milk in the third floor family room, the Matron said NO more glass drinks upstairs; the dog will hurt himself.

No -- nobody needs seven hours of computer time in one day, HWCBN.

No -- 12 year olds don't quit school for local theater unless their parents are crazy (but let's hold out that wild card for a major motion picture).

No -- you may not have four doughnuts for breakfast and then eat Pringles for lunch.

And no -- the Matron cannot run the PTO, volunteer in the classroom, work full-time, attend to a theater child's needs, focus on debate club, do much driving and retain her sanity.

Finally, no to helping someone she loves continue to drink himself to death. This is one of the hardest because those initial 'no's' in this situation appear heartless.

So she cut off some of the duties and drama, cold turkey.

Friends, she considered cutting off the blog. But realized that the creative and communal energy she finds here is one of the things that keeps her going: thank you!

She hopes this was her mid-life crisis. And hopes her friend -- who doesn't read this blog or much of anything else these days -- is able to get the help he needs. That would be a great big yes for her.


Daisy said...

I'm glad to hear that the blog remains a yes. We'll be here for you!

trash said...

Dear No,

welcome to The Matron's world. May your stay continue to be useful and beautiful. The Matron sounds like she has a clear grasp of your power and positive energy but may need a little help from your part on occasion.


Deb said...

Oh, is such a hard word. I do find though, that the more consistently I use it to requests that will pull me from those I love, the better I feel. I think I even stand straighter and taller. NO is power!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

"No" can be a lifesaving word. And hearing it is good for those around you as well.

*m* said...

Atta girl. YES to the "No." Say it with love and firmness, and stay strong. What's good for you is good for your whole family.

Minnesota Matron said...

Trash - I couldn't have said it better.

sue b said...

saying no is so hard that it is reserved for the brave.

Catherine said...

I'm sending some positive energy your way.

Anonymous said...

I always tell myself that by saying "NO" I'm giving someone else a chance to participate.
Keep swimming, Matron. And I am GLAD you said YES to the blog.

ilyanna said...


Rebekah said...

Good for you, Mary! And hooray for the selective Yes!

kjax said...

Thank you for not leaving us.

I was casting about for something to read one day at lunch and thought "I haven't talked to the Matron in a while."

After a few minutes I realized what I had said. Then I realized it was true. Reading your blog is like sitting down and talking with a good friend.

I might not get to call you every day, but I would miss our talks.

Common Household Mom said...

HWCBN does debate?! I hope you said NO to being a judge at his debate tournaments. I just went to my first one, and it is a sure insanity producer.

When I got married 20 years ago I said NO to ironing. And haven't done any since. We are the Wrinkly Family.

MJ said...

I concur with Trash. I think we all need lessons in "no" regularly. Why did we outgrow it following the terrible 2s? It wasn't so hard then...

MJ said...

I concur with Trash. I think we all need lessons in "no" regularly. Why did we outgrow it following the terrible 2s? It wasn't so hard then...

Jen on the Edge said...

No is a powerful word. I'm pleased that you are wielding your power effectively. Good job.