Today marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the film version of OKLAHOMA by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I’ve uploaded a new music video to YouTube in honor of the occasion.
It’s a recording of “I Can’t Say No” (the way Ado Annie would have sung it were she a 2015 soccer mom instead of a 1907 pioneer girl).
Of course, I’m singing this song with my tongue slightly in cheek. As my children will attest, I actually can say NO and do so fairly often.
Whether consciously or not, we all say NO to a variety of things every day. The trick is not so much knowing how to say NO as knowing when and to what we should say it.
We need to make sure that we are answering all of life’s many opportunities and distractions in a way that accurately reflects our goals and priorities. The challenge is saying NO to things that don’t matter so we can say YES to the things that do.
For me, a lot of NOs have become second nature:
- To be more productive, I say NO to watching television.
- To prevent unwanted weight gain, I say NO to excess sugar.
- To preserve family time in the evenings, I say NO to most of the extracurricular activities that would split us apart.
But even more importantly, I try to consistently say YES to the things that matter most to me and my family:
- To nurture my children, I say YES to spending time with them, listening when they need to talk, homeschooling them, and heeding when my little ones say, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”
- To nurture my faith, I say YES to Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and Scripture memorization.
- To nurture my marriage, I say YES to communicating respect to my husband, praying with him daily, and sharing intimacy with unfailing regularity.
How are you doing in this important area? Your NOs and YESses may look different than mine. And that’s okay.
The important question is: Are you making choices that will carry you where you really want to go in life? Or are you stuck singing the “I Can’t Say No” refrain, exhausted from frantically trying to do it all — and weighed down by guilt because you can’t?
I’m Just a Mom Who Can’t Say No
It’s not so much a question of not knowin’ what to do;
It’s just that I’m so busy, I can’t think.
I’m barely treadin’ water, and my family’s drownin’, too.
But if I don’t keep paddlin’, I’ll sink.
My schedule’s overloaded to the max,
And I don’t have a moment to relax.
I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
I’m in a terrible fix.
I usually say, “Alright, we’ll go,”
Just when I oughta say “Nix.”
When a kid pitches a temper fit,
Some say his little bottom needs a smack,
But when my child throws a fit for me,
I sometimes sorta wanta throw one back!
My list of projects seems to grow
Faster than I can keep track.
I’m feelin’ ready to crack.
How will I ever turn back?
I can’t say no!
What you gonna do when your life gets so busy,
You start to feel dizzy?
What you gonna do?
S’pose your sense of balance gets a little off kilter
From running full tilter?
From having tons to do?
S’pose you want to mind all the things that matter most,
But you know you will be toast if you try?
Your life’s already swamped by so many other things —
Adding any more would make you cry!
I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
Something has gotta change quick,
Before I completely lose control —
The chaos is making me sick.
Though I know I can’t do everything,
Sometimes it’s really hard to pick and choose.
Now I’m wound up tighter than a spring —
You better duck for cover when I’m loose!
Lately, I sense an undertow,
Exhaustion has made me feel faint.
My husband has lodged a complaint:
It’s high time I show some restraint!
I must say no!
Incidentally, If you watch the video, you’ll notice I have a new book coming out in December. It’s called Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most, and I’m so excited about it!
It’s taken me several years to finish it (primarily because when I “mind what matters most,” my writing inevitably gets pushed into the margins), but little by little, it’s taken shape — and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my heart on these matters and offer strategies for keeping a balanced perspective in every area of life.
I’ll be sharing more details about the book and its contents in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!