Just over four years ago, I turned over a new leaf. I was a mom to two under 4. And expecting my third. And at 30ish weeks pregnant, was put on bedrest.
This turn of events wasn’t necessarily a surprise for me or for my husband. We’d had early deliveries and high-risk pregnancies in our past. But this time it was even earlier. And it seemed, even more risk to the baby I was carrying. Each minute, each hour, each additional day was crucial to baby’s development. And yet, over exertion could lead to still birth or for me, a stroke.
It sounds like I’m exagerrating, right? Like you know how everyone will swear that at least one of their births was the worst birth that has ever happened. But in this instance, baby had stopped growing. And the fluid that kept babe afloat in the placenta was decreasing by the week. So while it wasn’t the worst case scenario ever to happen on earth, it was imperative that I, the momwifedoerofsomanythings, chill the freak out.
And so I did.
I think it’s hard when someone says that for our own self, we should settle down. Slow down. Stop taking it all like gangbusters. But when it was for the health and livelihood of my baby, all parties involved agreed mama was marooned to the couch.
I started saying yes. I even wrote about being in “a place of yes.” A place where I said, “Yes. Please take the boys to get new church shoes.” I was in a place where I said, “Yes. Please help me fold my laundry. And do some Christmas Shopping.” I said, “Yes. Your meal would be so helpful. And so would that cleaning crew.”
And in all things crazy, it didn’t feel heavy with guilt to say yes. It felt like a gift of Christmas presence. Yes. Presence. Because I really was so present that Christmas. Even after the wee one came 8 weeks early on December 10. At 3 lbs. With a NICU stay. It just felt like I knew where my focus would be.
In that time, I learned the place of yes. And the power of not. right. now.
As women, I think we say those phrases ad nauseum. But at the end of the day, I found myself questioning prior to bedrest if I’d been using them correctly for my life.
I was saying yes to helping on things that didn’t mean anything to me. Helping simply because I wondered what people might think if I said not right now.
I was saying yes to being a martyr. Keeping tabs on all the things that I did daily. Simply because I wanted to keep up appearances as much as I could with my home and my children.
I was saying yes to all the things I thought moms were supposed to say yes to.
I was saying not right now to my boys requests to stop doing laundry and play.
I was saying not right now to fitting in exercise for my own health and mental wellbeing.
I was saying not right now to cereal nights at dinner because I thought it was worth stressing myself out every night to curate a dinner experience. One where ultimately one of my children expressed huge distaste for the meal. And I would feel anger about that.
And those are just a few examples.
I found that the experience of bedrest ushered me into a new phase and appreciation for the true reality of motherhood. Sometimes we can say yes. And sometimes we can say not right now. And that’s okay.
I got sick. Two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. And treatment followed. Nine months of treatment. Nine months of learning the best practices of yes and not right now.
Yes. It would be amazing if you’d come sit with me.
Yes. It would be helpful if we could have help with that.
Yes. It matters to me to sit on the couch and read Holiday books with my boys.
Yes. It is so important to me to sit in front of the tree and soak it up. Because what if I never get to again.
Yes. That snuggle time at the end of the day in the crook of my husband’s neck is important to my wellbeing.
Yes. I want to go to that girls’ night because friendship is one of life’s best gifts.
Yes. I want to rest. When I need to. I will rest.
Can I volunteer for that? Not right now. Some day. But not right now.
Can I bring food for this? Not right now.
Can I travel for the Holidays? Not right now.
Can I finish the laundry before bed? Not right now.
Can I make every day magical? Not right now.
Can I shower? Not right now.
As humans, each and every day that we get to breathe air through our lungs, we are growing. We are growing up and out of the people who came into the world in our skin. And life happens.
It doesn’t have to be cancer or bedrest. That’s what I ultimately realized. It doesn’t have to be something that people agree is a challenge or difficult. It could be something like, the baby was up all night or the coffee maker broke this morn. All the little things that make up our day make up our lives make up our stories. And there are times where it would serve us well to learn the comfort of saying yes. And of confidently stating, not right now.
It is a season of presence. But shouldn’t it always get to be? Yes.
And so, to what can you say not right now?
Maybe someday when the babies are bigger. When I’m not working two jobs. When the kids don’t have 4 practices a week. When my house doesn’t look like a tiger lives in it. When I don’t need 4 cups of coffee to feel like I have any motivation. When I don’t feel like I’m already running all day. When I have more disposable income. When I have more disposable time. When I am dating someone. When I’m not knee-deep-in-alligators. When… Maybe someday.
But not. right. now.
Yes. Someday, I’d love to do it all. But gosh. Not. Right. Now.