Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 150: On Saying No and a $25 Ruffled Sweater I Need.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag(s): Children’s Casual Clothing.

I have been beefing up my childrens’ wardrobes recently — especially with easy-to-wear-and-clean pieces along the lines I shared here. Micro seems to have skipped straight from size 6-12 mo to 18+ mo (what…) and I’ve been scrambling to keep up. I did a big haul from Ralph Lauren (currently, so many basics are an extra 40% off!!), including these polos, which are marked down to like $9 with the extra discount, these tees ($5?!), and these sweatshirts. Also eyeing this set (free shipping with no minimum today!) and a spare pair or two of Osh Kosh.

You’re Sooooo Popular: A Dusty Rose Blouse.

The most popular items on the blog this past week:

+Gorgeous blouse (marked way down) in the prettiest dusty rose color.

+My favorite hair spray.

+A maternity must-have.

+The softest, most elegant napkins!

+The dress I wore last night to Le Coucou to celebrate Mr. Magpie’s birthday!

+I love love LOVE this eye primer. I often wear without any eyeshadow on top just to neutralize the lid and make everything seem a bit more polished.

+The best nursing bra, in my opinion — on sale in select colors!

+Lace-trim top.

+Classic button-in for a little boy.

+My favorite striped tee — on super sale.

+Adorable jumper for a little girl.

#Turbothot: On Saying No.

I have an irritating habit of over-explaining myself. It feels curt and potentially hurtful to respond to an invitation or a request with a decline, no matter how polite, and I am nearly always compelled to add: “I will actually be busy taking Hill to his checkup then,” or “I won’t have childcare for two weeks and I just can’t make the time for a call this month,” or “maybe another time, but…”

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when a well-intentioned friend asked me to do something with her that would have required substantial logisticizing (scheduling an early start-time with the nanny, moving an appointment) and that — if I am brutally honest — was not interesting to me, or at least not meaningful enough that I would shuffle my week around on its behalf.

I remembered, all of the sudden, something my grandmother used to say: “No is a full sentence.” And so I replied with a careful: “So kind of you — but, no, thank you. Let’s do something else soon.”

Can I be honest and say I still felt a twinge of guilt? And that I nearly cupped my hand to my mouth to prevent myself from spilling into an elaborate explanation of all the schedule-shuffling that would be required? And that I doted on that friend afterward, almost to compensate for what I felt had been a rude reply to her invitation?

But I felt something else, too. I was aware for the first time of a kind of selfishness in my auditing of the invitation. It was one of the first times where I did not reflexively say yes to an invitation, or rush to “make it work” despite the fact that I did not in fact want to go. And I told Mr. Magpie later that I think I have entered a season of life where I am becoming more ruthless with my priorities. For example, I find it difficult to commit to events and gatherings that start before 7:30 p.m. because I want to put my children to sleep — or at least one of them, so Mr. Magpie is not on his own. Putting them both to bed is doable (I do it routinely) but it often saps the joy out of bedtime, because both are sleepy and in need of my attention and so I am rushing through storytime while micro is whimpering on my knee, or shushing a whining mini while giving micro his bottle. And I have declined a few proposed getaways with friends because it is so complicated to figure out childcare and we are banking on the generosity of our parents for two trips we absolutely MUST make this year (anniversary and my sister’s wedding) and do not want to overstep our boundaries in that regard by squandering their offer to watch our children on a more frivolous excursion. For a time, I felt ashamed of this. I had friends telling me “oh but you really need to get away from your kids now and then.” I am certain they are right in that it would be restorative to get away for a few days (Mr. Magpie and I daydream about it regularly) but — I have decades and decades ahead of me where such trips are much more feasible and much less complicated. Micro is only seven months old! His care is still rather intensive. And ferrying mini to and from school on the subway with a baby in a carrier is no joke if you are on your own, especially if you are not from New York. And so would I tap a separate caregiver to help with transit? Etc.

Even now, as I write this, I am overexplaining it, maybe even to myself. Because the simpler answer is no, thank you. I would rather be with my children. Or — it is too complicated to leave my children. Or — I am just not comfortable leaving my children. At least right now, at least at this stage.

I wonder how this sits with you, whether you have children or not. I feel in some ways that the ambient culture has been all about “saying YES to adventures” and “the year of yes” and “yes, and.” You can scarcely open Pinterest without a meme telling you that you should embrace your bias towards action — JUST DO IT! LEAN INTO ADVENTURE!

And so this message may read maverick.

What are your thoughts?

Post-Scripts: A $25 Ruffled Sweater.

+This ruffled sweater is so pretty. And this similar one so sweet on a little one.

+Is it too early to be planning for the fourth of July? (Or, if you’re the dramatic type…!!!)

+Finally bought a Vitamix for our kitchen — we have basically every other kitchen gadget and tool under the sun, but were stubbornly hanging on to an old, passably-workable blender we bought before we were married that can barely puree cooked vegetables. Very excited to work smoothies and acai bowls into our breakfast routine!

+I forgot to mention in my Valentine’s Day post that I am giving this book to mini and this one to micro for the occasion.

+Planning to reupholster two x benches that have been thoroughly destroyed with grubby fingers over the past two years, and want something in a bold red/coral/orange print. Eyeing this fabric or this one.

+So fun for a playroom.

+Dream china, in petal pink!

+Dying over this coat for mini (on super sale).

+Love a leopard situation, and this is 50% off plus an extra 20% off!

+Finding it hard to resist this HVN silk dress, marked down to like 80% off with the additional 20% off promo…!!!!

+I buy mini a Minnow swimsuit each summer. They are so expensive but absolutely precious. I think this one might be my pick for this summer.

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16 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 150: On Saying No and a $25 Ruffled Sweater I Need.

  1. As someone who tends to err on the side of “yes” — even when it means making sacrifices that I possibly shouldn’t — I deeply relate to your message about the power of saying “no”, and your grandmother’s mantra that “no is a full sentence”. So genius! I also tend to overcompensate with excuses when I DO say “no”, so this post is inspiring to me.

    Oooh, and I have that Ganni leopard peplum top, and I.LOVE.IT. The cotton/silk material is beautiful — more & more, I find myself gravitating away from polyesters or other synthetic materials, and this is a nice counterpoint. I also own a leopard dress in the same material — it started as a maxi but it’s currently at the tailor getting hemmed to midi length & I’m really excited to wear it with heeled black boots! xx

  2. I am coming from a bit of a different place than I think most readers are in this regard, as my fiancee and I have made the decision not to have children. Regardless I think it is appropriate to let your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no.
    I make a point of inviting whomever might enjoy a particular event in my friend group and I don’t distinguish between those that have children and those that do not. I want the mothers to know that our friendship remains the same as before and that I love them and want to spend time with them! Logistical changes arise with little ones, but the sentiment remains the same.
    I think as I get older this will be an issue that comes up for me again and again, and I hope that I will continue accepting declines (whether child-related or not) gracefully, just as I hope my friends do not feel guilty for delivering them!

    1. Hi Sandra — So much wisdom here, especially — “let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.” I mean, so clear and obvious stated that way. And I agree with you on extending invites — better to continue to ask and hope that one day it will pan out. xx

  3. YES! This is most definitely something I feel almost daily. The pressure to take vacation and have the girls night or volunteer at school again or this or that and explain every declined invite. And to this I say, in another season of life it will all be possible. But right now, in this season, with three little ones plus a four month old, no.

    I have also had to explain myself more times that I can count about why I don’t have a nanny or childcare. I honestly had to ask my husband if I looked unwell or stressed because every single friend, our pediatrician, even strangers have mentioned I need help. Initially I felt compelled to explain myself (almost defend my choice?) but now I simply say no and move on. Because not everyone needs to understand my decisions.

    1. Oof, that would be so irritating, and good for you for steeling yourself to those inquiries and keeping the explanation to yourself. People are just way too nosy and judgey about all things children-related. Arg.


  4. I once read this somewhere: “If it’s not an absolute YES, it’s a NO.”

    I now apply it to different situations — particularly how I choose to spend my time and energy (as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more protective of these two things). And as a bonus, it keeps me from making impulse purchases!

    I used to over-explain too when saying no, but I’ve since reduced that habit. It feels empowering! Because often saying no to one thing means saying yes to another thing that is either more meaningful or restorative or enjoyable, whatever the case may be.

    I LOVE our Vitamix. It is LOUD, but it does the job very well. I always have to warn my toddler daughter when I’m turning it on!

    1. Love that expression! That’s definitely how Mr. Magpie lives his life. I would do well to follow suit…


  5. I think there’s such a balance between “yes” and “no”. I’ve been a perpetual “yes, for sure!” woman my entire life – in work, school, and relationships/friendships. I’ve overextended myself the point of a panic attack more than once, and I’m always afraid of saying no, even if it’s something I don’t really want to do. It doesn’t help that we’re in this culture of YES. Two things I’ve realized though:

    1) I shouldn’t be saying yes to something if it means that something more important is going to suffer. (ex: helping out another team at work when it means my team’s work is going to be neglected)

    2) There’s a huge difference between extending my “comfort zone” (which I believe is at the heart of the “YES” culture) and being miserable. Too often I’ve made myself miserable in the name of needing to say yes.

    I believe that there is room for both “yes” and “no” in life. I try to say yes more often than I say no, on the whole, because I do believe in camaraderie and friendship and being surprised. But when I say on the whole, I mean on the whole of a lifetime. Some seasons of life lend themselves to saying yes or saying no more than others.

    1. This is such a good point, that you can be both a “yes” person and a thoughtful and careful “no” person as well. Or rather, you’re not one or the other at all — you just exercise judgement carefully in what you say yes and no to, and during which season of life. Thanks for all of these thoughts!

  6. Good Morning,
    I have adult children now but I could so relate to you and this post; I never wanted to leave; I didn’t have a bevy of great babysitters and honestly it seemed like such a hassle to go. My husband was totally on board with me also; as they grew we enjoyed so many great family vacations and now as empty-nesters we are traveling the world. Because of how fast they grew up, it really does fly by I have never regretted a moment
    Of saying “no”.

    1. Hi Diana! Thank you so much for taking the time to write in on this front. Very reassuring to here this from a more tenured mom who has had the time and space to reflect back — and has not regretted saying no! Thank you. xx

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