Today I posted a quote on my Facebook Fan page by Anna Quindlen that said “When you want to say no, say no. You can’t do everything – at least not well.”
Ironically, later in the day, I was reading a story about MSNBC anchorwoman, Mika Brzezinski and her forthcoming book “All Things at Once” where she describes the day she fell down a flight of stairs while holding her 4 month old daughter. She had been up all night working at the newsroom and because she couldn’t sleep (during daylight hours), had let her caregiver go home early. She stated that she had picked up the baby and was talking 100 words per hour and walked right off the top of the stairs, landing with her on top of the baby! The “baby” is now almost a teen and is fine, but can you imagine the horror, the pain, and the guilt that went along with that experience ?
In the interview, she went on to say that at that point she learned to ask for help. “If you’ve got a career that you need to nurture, there are going to be times when you need to transfer your authority to others. I will forever regret that I didn’t get help sooner so I could get through that rough patch in my career. ”
I’m sharing this story not just to talk about career vs. caregiving but to say that we must not wait until something awful happens before we ask for help. Many of have careers and even if we don’t, we may have children and a husband who need our time and attention, as well. We must not get to the point where we are too keyed-up to even sleep. We must not let our families go on with their lives without us. We cannot afford to be the one who is admitted to the hospital with heart problems, anxiety disorder or something even worse while our care-recipient is left behind. When we want to say No to something, we must say No !
If you are participating in a committee that is becoming burdensome, doing work such as cleaning or running errands that could be “resourced out” to another capable person, working with the local women’s group with whom you have nothing in common, not asking your family members (I’m talking siblings here) for help (even little bits of help), please reconsider your actions.
Don’t wait for a 911 moment. Just say No.
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