I think everyone gets to a stage in their life when they realise they can't do everything, please everyone or have it all. It's just not possible. And there are too many 'things' that get in the way of us really, truly enjoying and embracing our lives.
We all have certain commitments that we have to keep, but there's a lot of stuff we do even though we don't want to, or, more importantly, don't have to. We just do it because we feel obliged to. Or we justify doing it by making excuses like, 'It'll only take a couple of hours of my time anyway.'
Think about it: in the last three months, what have you done that later you wished you hadn't? Attended a function you didn't really want to go to in the first place? Caught up with a 'friend' who either annoys you, puts you down, or both? Wrote a blog post because you thought you 'should' because you hadn't for a while? Reluctantly signed up to join a school committee because someone pushed you in to it, even though you have nor the time or inclination to do it?
I've become picky this year. That means I'm not doing stuff that perhaps I did before because I thought I 'should'. When I was back in Perth in December last year for a wedding, I was showing my eighty-four year old mother photos of my trip to New York with Mr A last year. As we came to the photo of the snow-covered courtyard outside MoMA, my mother sighed and said, "I never did get to see snow."
I thought about not going on that trip to New York. When Mr A suggested it, I thought, 'Am I being selfish leaving my kids for a week just so I can holiday?' I really struggled with that concept and my ultimate decision to go.
But you know what? It was a WEEK. Seven days. Okay, it was really ten days by the time we flew there and back, but still...ten days out of ten years of parenting. And really, what was the downside? Mr A and I got to connect like we hadn't connected in years. I got to see a city I've yearned to see for a very long time. My kids got to spend some quality time with the grandmother that lives interstate and they see only occasionally. My mother-in-law got to spend time with the grandchildren she loves and wants to spend as much time with as she can.
It was win/win. All around. It hurt no one.
I don't want to get to my mother's age and feel the way she does. I want to look back on my life and remember all the wonderful things I did, and just as much, I don't want to waste my life filling it with unnecessary commitments. Life is far too short.
So, sometimes I'll say no. Sometimes I won't go to that lunch I don't really want to attend. Sometimes I won't take my kids to soccer training if we feel like spending an afternoon playing Monopoly. Sometimes I'll get a babysitter, and Mr A and I will head out on a date.
You know why you should do this too? Because before you know it, you're in your eighties (God willing) looking back on your life wishing you'd seen snow.