Saying “No” is something I have become accustomed to, rather reluctantly, in the wake of becoming a mother. It’s the reaction of disappointment and fury that I’ve had difficulty with. Seeing the face of my child fall when she was younger, the tears welling up, violins playing in the background of my mind, and oh yes, guilt. Later, as an adolescent and teen, the disappointment replaced by anger, indignation. The ire a wave, pushing me down, my internal insistence to rise against, to stand my ground. As a child, saying “No” never (and I can say this with absolute confidence) revolved around another helping of ice cream and other delicious sugary substances; the “No”‘s were based on other limitations, mostly to do with financial constraints. And those, I tended to frame inside my own issues with not-spending and tremendous failure/guilt, knowing that saying “I can’t afford it” would not translate. I tried another avenue of “No”: if we walked into a store, I’d tell my elementary-school aged child she could choose just one thing, and I’d get it for her. She’d grown accustomed to those parameters as a toddler, when she’d run to the shelves and just pull everything, in want. I’d tell her, “Just one thing.” Sometimes that one thing was a candy bar, sometimes that one thing was a Dora doll. Always, however, One Thing. She grew out of that, in middle school, however, when she, in fact, needed more things. A dress to a Bat Mitzvah. Another bra. New pair of kicks. Things she needed, things relegated to more than one thing. Saying “No” became another internal battle, what she needed vs what she simply wanted, a terrain I needed to navigate as a parent, as a person on a budget, as an adult instilling that coveted value of the dollar. It’s not easy, honestly. I hate not being able to give, in general. Is that an inherently female quality? I don’t know, I don’t have a partner to gauge this against. I do fear the fury. Yes, I said it, I fear it. Fear the brooding, the sulking. Fear not being liked, loved by my child. Ironic, in that I have no problems standing up for myself in any other setting. In teaching my daughter the tools of empowerment, of standing her ground, of being her own person, I too, am learning something: that I must stay embedded in my role as her parent, to not fear her disappointment, that brooding that comes with “No.” As a teenager, she understands the impact of “I can’t afford it” or even and simply, “No, I am not buying that.” An insight that sometimes comes with something darker, something I need to accept will come, while I stay true to my “No.” Something that also comes with a great big sigh.
(Today’s post inspired by my friend Catherine.)
The baddest bitch in the room, my dear friend Sophia Chang.
Grace Jones. Donna Summer. Music to my ears.
Stacey Abrams, going for governor of Georgia.
Get your tickets to the RBG documentary, now.
Terry Gross talks to Michelle Wolf and you ought to listen.
Facebook is doing a dating app and wow am I happy I am in a relationship.
OMG this white rainboots from UGGS.
And, now have a laugh with Kathy Griffin.