Friday, October 22, 2010

Learning to Say NO

This morning was a pivotal moment for me.  Like every weekday morning I arrived in the kitchen at 7:00 am to fix breakfast for my two teenage girls before they leave to catch the bus at 7:35.  It is something I do as a mom to ensure they always start their day with a full tummy and good nutrition for their brain and body.

But this morning I was surprised to see the coffee pot on the counter full of coffee and a mug nearby full of the same.  Alicia, my eldest, my 16 year old.  She got up very early this morning to get herself ready for a busy day.  It's homecoming week and as a cheerleader, Friday of homecoming is a monumental day.  I was upset to see the coffee pot.  I've been watching her struggle with the highs and lows of sugar and caffeine cravings and though she consciously knows that caffeine sends her down a dark path of feeling unwell, she was caving in.

She arrived at the kitchen table for her breakfast and I asked her about the coffee.  Her reason for the coffee?  She likes the taste.  Well I know that wasn't the truth, coffee smells good, but it doesn't taste good until she fills it up with sugar.

At that moment, I made the decision to tell her NO.  NO, she was not going to drink the coffee or take a mug of it to school.  Her 16 year old independence flared up and I could see the anger blazing forth from her eyes.  "WHY?"  she demanded in her best "Housewives of Orange County" head shaking attitude. 

Instantly time seemed to stand still and I felt deep inside of me a conviction and commitment to my NO.  A conviction and commitment that for the first time I was able to hold onto.  I could see that in the past I would relent to soothe her anger so as not to lose the love of my child.  And because of my inability to say NO, I was allowing her to struggle with addictions that in her 16 years she couldn't handle. 

I could finally see that in saying YES in the past I was fooling myself into thinking that this was how I showed her my love when really saying YES came from a place of fear, a fear that she would not love me if I said NO.  Now it was so clear to me that saying NO was actually the true way to show her that I loved her enough to stop her from doing something that was harming her.

I gazed right back at her and stood my ground unwavering in the commitment I had made.  So I replied.  "You can be mad at me, but I am your mom and therefore responsible for you which includes your health, so I am saying NO.  I can not stand back and watch you harm yourself."  She glared for a minute longer and then quite suddenly her demeanor changed.  I swear I saw relief come over her body and my happy-go-lucky child came forth.

Over the years in my attempt to allow her to have choices and independence, I came to see that I had given her too much independence and responsibility in taking care of herself.  It is enough for her to take on cheer leading, Earth Club, honors classes, P-SATs, friends, her bedroom, her laundry, preparing for college, and all the fabulous things that come with being in high school.  But asking her to take responsibility for her food choices was just too much.  It is my responsibility to feed her well, to keep her healthy.  Very soon she'll be out on her own, and will have to make those choices.  For now she only wants to be concerned with eyeshadow colors, decorating her room and texting her friends.

But what caused me to be able to finally say NO and mean it?  In the past I've said no many times, but could never sustain the NO.  Why now?  While going for a walk, it dawned on me why.  Because I've finally healed myself of those same addictions.  When I was addicted to sugar and caffeine, I would try to say NO to her, but my own addiction would override the NO because my body was still saying YES.  It wasn't until I made the commitment these past 3 months to finally heal myself, that I can now say NO. 

And so this morning was a pivotal moment.  I can feel that I've turned a corner in my life.  I've made an amazing discovery and in the process not only deepened my connection to my daughter, but took a burden off her shoulders that she did not want to carry.

And so the quote goes "Healer Heal Thyself" ~ thank you, I understand.

Alicia and me, her Mom


  1. Kristi, that is a great story. I've often wondered how I would have turned out if my mom hadn't always caved into my cravings!
    Keep up the good work!
    Sheri Z

  2. Thanks Sheri. I think our own moms did the best they could with what they had available to them. It takes a lot of courage to look into your darkness to see where in life one needs to heal. However we turned out is exactly how we were supposed to turn out even with its pain and suffering. My own childhood of Trix and Kool-aid was the impetus that lead me on a path of nutrition. And your own experiences are a gift that is leading you to the gift that you have to offer the world.

  3. this is powerful kristi, and so insightful, seeing how our own boundaries (or lack thereof) in our own life affect the boudaries we (try to) set for our children. how inspiring you are! beautiful! and how wonderful for alicia, to have you as her mom!

  4. Thanks Tracy! Now I can see so much more clearly where I need in my own life to heal and create healthy boundaries. So cool to see that our children are always little mirrors reflecting right back to us what we need to take care of for ourselves!

  5. Kristi, what a lovely photo of the 2 of you, like mother, like daughter, beautiful! It's funny that you find how you're still learning how to be a Mom whether you've been mothering for 4, 16 or like me 26 years. You find that you'll always be learning anew. No matter how old you get or they get, we'll never stop learning from our mothers and children. Thanks for sharing.

    Lisa N

  6. Thank you for sharing Lisa! I agree, the learning process continues, it never ends. I'm sure I'll find something new to learn even when I'm on my deathbed!

  7. Alright!
    You go, Mama!

    This is an important lesson. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. Thanks Jennifer! And thanks for being a "follower" ;0)