There are people who NEED us. As parents, we try. We try to take care of everything and everyone. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is say, "No. No, I can't help you." But, when we care for our elderly parents or we have a child with underlying health conditions, no might be our only choice.
Today, on the verge of tears, our family had to say no to helping another part of our family we love dearly. This same part of our family comes to help us and has done so multiple times. They are loved, cherished and so appreciated. We have been the couple with the kids, one of whom has significant allergies and asthma. Having kids has made it harder to drop everything and run to the aide of others. It has limited our time with family members who smoke and live in houses with carpets or with pets. We wouldn't change our family or our child. It is a lose:lose. There is a guilt that hangs over us when we are more often asking for help than offering.
Now, take this COVID outbreak. Prior to the outbreak, we were eager to dig our hands in and contribute over a weekend or a week night, but, since then... we have sheltered our children. We have only allowed two family members into our house on two separate occasions. I have only gone to the store one time. I have stopped running in my group. Rarely do I check in on the news (I limit to one time per day) and the hardest thing is seeing the people drowning in their own lungs, alone in a hospital room. No one to watch over them, no priest or clergy to bring them peace- just the devoted hospital staff (God bless you all) and the other dying patients 6 feet away.
I will never advocate for imagining the worst. Unless you, like me, have a bleeding heart that allows you to go down a rabbit hole of guilt when you have to say no. NOW IS THE TIME for NO. If you have a family member at risk, your answer to a group gathering is, "No." But even people not "at risk" are "at risk". It literally took me imagining my twelve year old asthmatic son for a brief moment, dying alone, to help me feel firm in my "no", It is sad, sick and terrible to have to go there.
As parents, we have a decision to make. We make it every time we see our kids "go off to run at the track" as I heard a local woman cry... only to find that when checked, the local teens were congregating and jumping car to car. We choose to allow and trust or we choose to ensure our children's safety and say, "no." There are myriad ways to be there for one another and to provide social support or help. The family I can't physically move into another apartment- I can send you pizza delivery or drop off a case of beer. The teens who want to socialize have social media- a method they previously used constantly, even when given the opportunity to be face to face.
We can take precautions and remove our clothes at the door, jump into the shower and scour our bodies, but if infected, we carry this inside of ourselves, unknown and invisible for over a week. Post shower snuggling puts our loved ones at risk. Just ask a nurse, a doctor or anyone at the grocery store who has to work because they are essential. Ask them if they are afraid they could have it and despite scouring, they could spread it to their own loved ones.
This is why we have to say, "No." No is not the same as, "I don't love you." or "You aren't good enough for me". No is not, "I'm selfish " No is not, "I'm weak." No might take the most strength you can muster up, but you have to say it right now.
Soon, the more people say no, the more people we love that will remain. The more people we will still be able to celebrate with when this whole thing is behind us.
This is your formal permission to say "No" coming from a girl who said it, broke her own heart and then realized it was the only real, right choice.
I love you all. Be strong, be safe, believe we will get through this.