My epiphany of apathy, or how I stopped being a yes-mom.

epiphany of apathyI’ve been a champion yes-man in the past. If you were looking for someone to bake for the school fundraiser, make 35 favors for a wedding shower in a weekend, or head up a committee for a town event, I was your woman.

Forget yes-man. Yes-men had nothing on me. I was a yes-mom.

Why did I do this to myself? Guilt. I thought I should help more, do more, contribute more. Plus, if I didn’t do it, who would?

Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve done a 180 degree turnaround. And if you’re a perfectionist mom-leader type, I’m now the mom you most certainly do NOT want on your committee.

Because I ignore your emails about fundraising followup. Once in a while I drop off committees midway through. And when I do stick with it? I’m the mom who usually does the bare minimum.

Now I figure if I don’t head up that committee, someone else will. And if someone else doesn’t, I guess it wasn’t that important to begin with.

Basically, I am the epitome of what I used to detest about my coworkers and committee members.

How did I achieve my new heights of lackluster participation? What led me to this epiphany of apathy?

Multiple stress-induced mental breakdowns, I’m guessing.

In my early years of parenting, I kept taking on too much and I was stretched way too thin. Being a yes-mom catered to that part of me that is a total overachieving perfectionist.

I liked being depended upon. Being the one who always pulled it off. It made me feel good to bake the best-looking cupcakes that everyone oohed and aahed over. And I felt pride after staying up all hours of the night to create a perfect Pinterest-worthy birthday party for my two-year-old.

But who was I really doing it all for?

Eventually I realized that sometimes – like in the case of my daughter’s birthday party – it was worth it to put in all that effort, time, and yes – stress. But most of the time? It wasn’t.

So how have I embraced the average and banished my perfectionist, controlling tendencies?

I realized three things:

1. My own mental health was more important than saying yes to every volunteer opportunity. You know, even if the town’s library garden beautification committee reaaaaaaaly needed my help. There really, truly was someone else out there who could handle it.

2. I learned to say “no” to the majority of the requests for my time, and to say “yes” very selectively. When I do say yes, I am only a member of the team. I don’t let myself get pressured into leading it. And if I made a mistake and overcommit, I realized it wasn’t the end of the world to fess up, apologize, and make my exit.

3. I’ve embraced the fact that not every member of a team needs to be an A+ contributor. I considered this very idea complete blasphemy until not too long ago. But until my general stress level dials down a few notches, I am happy being a nice, solid B- or even C+ team member.

Maybe when Grace is in school five days a week, I’ll be a room mom or head up a kindergarten fundraiser. Maybe I’ll once again make the most impressive cupcakes at the bake sale. Maybe I’ll get back to being an A+ team member.

Or … maybe being average will be just too damn relaxing.




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18 Replies to “My epiphany of apathy, or how I stopped being a yes-mom.”

  1. Yes!!! Or, er, I mean No!!! This is such good timing for me to read because I have been feeling that very same way and saying yes to so many things for the same reasons…I have been considering cutting back because apparently Mommy is just no fun when her head spins around, but I keep thinking “well who else will do it?” You’ve inspired me to look after myself. Thank you.

  2. Amen! I can totally relate. I have also starting saying “no” to things rather than “yes” and am starting to feel slightly less pressure and stress. It’s actually quite liberating to say no – and let others take a turn at doing what I normally would feel “I should” do! So glad to read your article. Keep up the fantastic work of staying mediocre and I will too:)

  3. I’m with you, I’ve embraced a “less is more” attitude towards volunteering. I ask myself what would my husband do? And do that, because goodness knows he’s not stressing over not doing enough for a committee at school, or what to bring to the class party.

  4. Good for you! Literally. You’ve got to prioritize. Your family (including yourself) needs to be nurtured. The rest of it? You can either do a few things well or a lot of things badly. Choose the ones that have value, and let someone else deal with the rest.

  5. Luckily, I figured this one out before I had kids. I used to be the person who would volunteer and/or be volunteered for all event planning committees, all the school facility planning meetings (as a biz owner), and handle – for free – all public relations needed. One day I realized, yep, there were others who could do this and, well, they did, to my dismay. Then I discovered I liked being at home. Now, no one in their right mind would ask me to bring food to any function, but I dread the day that begins with my kids. I dread school. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Dear Honest Mom, I use to bring food to my freinds without homes 7 nights a week for over 4 years. I would receive donations on my desk at work, I would go to 0 to 6 Starbucks a day to pick up their pastries they wanted to throw away. I would go to Church and friends would give me their donations there. I would go to people's homes and pick up their donations for my friends in need. I would work 10 to 12 hours a day to and then my severe depression set in. I couldn't be the Salvation Army driver anymore. I couldn't run around on a empty gas tank anymore. I would give my friends pastries and I would go to Walmart after work to buy bread, salami, bologna and mayo and cookies and cup of soups and hot chocolate if I could afford it. Then I would got to Starbucks and pick up hot water for my thermoses or cold water depending on the weather. I saw the need but the need took a toll on me. I began to hear voices, and see visions, and hear music and I became very depressed. Thanks to the Father at my Church he encouraged me to go to the Doctor. I am now at home taking my meds. I go out to window shop because I was laid off and my unemployment ran out. I did my best and when I have surplus I see a vision of myself sitting at Mcdonalds where I can visit with my friends and give them hamburgers but not everyday. Because I don't want to over do what I was doing. I know when we feed the least of thee we have fed our Lord. And I am thankful our Lord didn't mind bologna or salami sandwiches. I stay home and I type books for Father God on how people can help people in need and believe me I don't ever want to have another breakdown again. No one understands what depression is unless they have suffered from depression. I have and I am still suffering. I am on a new medicine and it makes me groggy. I just want to be normal and I keep praying for help for me. amen.

  7. My husband used to call me the Queen of the Over-Committed. Then he instituted a volunteerism intervention and I’ve embraced the “no” ever since.

    I totally agree – if no one else is willing to step up and get it done, it probably didn’t need doing.

  8. I found that SOME people seem to think that since I’m a sahm I have nothing but free time, so I get hit up a LOT. I have two active toddlers…there are days I almost can’t sit! Your “saying yes selectively” really hit me as true. I need to do that…if I’m not worn thin I can do the things I really WANT to do.

  9. Great post. I’ve often thought about doing a piece on how not every mom can be the “PTO mom”. I discovered this myself after taking on the chair position of sponsorships for my daughter’s elementary school Fall Festival (their biggest fundraiser of the year). There is so much pressure out there to do it all (and with Pinterest quality style), so it is important for mom’s to hear that it is okay to step back from certain commitments or expectations. The world will not end, and your family (and personal sanity) will likely appreciate it.

  10. I am recovering from doing too much. My health is better and my mind is better. I can laugh again.
    Learning to say “no” and feel okay about it is an important self-care skill that no one teaches.

  11. “My own mental health was more important than saying yes”, words i need to live by.
    Regardless of “mom” status, I feel women in general do this far to often. We take it upon ourselves to be “super-women” in the lives of our loved ones until we reach a point where we just burn out – and that isn’t good for anyone!

  12. I can completely relate to feelings like these! I am way too “Type-A” for my own good too. But, the last two years have taught me that IS possible to calm the eff down a little bit about some things. My house is living proof of this 😉 Being “average” is definitely more relaxing. I never thought I would enjoy that…but I realized I wasn’t “enjoying” it the “perfect” way either, because perfect isn’t possible. This is a brilliant post with an awesome message that so many of us moms need to be reminded of more often! Good for you!!!

  13. The third grade teachers emailed yesterday that they need “gallons and gallons of pond water” for the class frog spawn science project. I am so drawing the line at that one.

  14. You are my hero! I’m getting better at saying no than I was several years ago…but I still hear “yes” coming out of my mouth when the rest of my body is screaming “nooooooooo.” My mouth needs a time-out sometimes. I’m sharing this one!

  15. I love this post!! When I start getting to hard on myself, I have to this checklist: Is my family fed? Do they have clean clothes? Is anything in the house a fire hazard? Then to everything else, I just say, f*** it! It can wait!

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