#7: RSVPs are mandatory, regardless of whether you’re going or not. I realize that this is not the community rule (RSVPs aren’t mandatory if you’re not going), but, as a child of mine, I am telling you that this is how you should operate.
When I’m hosting an event, I really, really want to know how many people are (and are NOT) attending. I hate making up twenty favor bags when I haven’t heard from seven of those people–you’d think that the non-communication would mean that they’re not coming, but experience has shown that that is definitely not the case. It’s not hard to make a quick phone call or send a text saying that you will or will not be attending. Be that person. Make Mother proud. (Remember that one birthday party for your sister where not one of the twelve invited people RSVP’d? We had no idea what to do, and it was very awkward. Just let the poor people know whether or not they should expect you. Geez.)
#8: Upon receipt of an invitation, you have 72 hours to RSVP
. And if, at the end of 72 hours, you just have no idea if you can attend, you should decline. If your life is so crazy that you cannot, after three days of thinking about it, concretely decide if you want to or should go to something, do yourself and the host the favor of declining. The host can move on with their preparations, and you will save yourself the stress of adding another thing to your already chaotic life.
#9: You are not a mean person for declining an invitation. You do not owe the host an explanation for cancelling. “I’m sorry that I won’t be able to attend” is the best way to decline an invitation. If a host gets huffy about your decline, THEY are being rude. End the conversation quickly, and walk away guilt-free.
#10: Once you’ve RSVP’d “YES,” the only reasons to not attend are violent illness, serious injury, impossible weather, or death. You never cancel on someone because something else “more interesting” came up–remember all that talk about priority scheduling? If someone’s event had been important to them, they would have given you adequate time to schedule your attendance.
#11: If you want me to disrupt SIX PEOPLE’S schedules for your event, you had better give me accurate, timely information about your event.
Our day-to-day life is pretty routine, and by routine, I mean scheduled AND AWESOME–I spend a significant amount of time working out an efficient schedule for myself and our family for the school year.
I am the Master Calendar Keeper for SIX PEOPLE (and a cat, which only seems to have vet appointments at inconvenient times), and I might need to schedule babysitters, I may need to move lesson times, move our weekly visit to the library, or move my own date night with my husband, there may be clothing to purchase, I may have to schedule a crock pot dinner or a pizza to be delivered to our house at a specific time so we can have dinner…I need at least two weeks’ notice in order to do all those things well. I refuse to disrupt SIX PEOPLE’S lives to accommodate someone else’s fleeting whims–it’s much better for everyone in the long run for ME to say “no” than to take on that stress. (Summer is a whole different story, but as much advance notice as possible is still appreciated even then.)
#12: I am not afraid of saying no to teachers, principals, and PTA members. Dear children, if the authority figures in your academic lives fail to communicate with me, I will say no to them about you staying after school or participating in whatever discretionary “celebration” the school has decided is more important to acknowledge than consistently sticking to the academic calendar I received (and painstakingly wrote onto the refrigerator calendar, my desk blotter calendar, typed into my own Google calendar, set up reminder emails and texts, shared with both your father’s calendar and our family group calendar, and then planned the remaining hours of our lives around) at the beginning of the school year.
If I do not receive a paper, email, or text (oh. my. goodness. SO MANY WAYS to have told me about it) about your teacher’s latest whim, you are not participating, and it’s not my fault. Your life will not be ruined if you don’t have crazy hair on one of the seventeen announced-at-the-last-minute-yet-again “Crazy Hair” days. (Why is it always crazy hair? Why all the focus on teaching our kids to be comfortable with walking around looking unkempt?)
#13: Other people’s accusations that I am “too Type-A,” “anal,” or “inflexible,” are my own “self-respect,” “organized,” and “consistent,” and our lifestyle is working pretty darn well for us–we have clean, mended clothes, balanced meals, you never miss the bus, you have adequate time to complete your homework, and we participate in wholesome recreational activities. This all happens because *I* consistently organize our priorities. Seriously. Your dad just comes home from work some nights and I tell him what he is doing that evening…and he simply says, “OK,” and does it, because he trusts that it must be important if I’ve cancelled homework time in order for us all to attend something. I AM THAT GOOD.
If you do wear crazy hair to school, it’s because I decided that you could participate in Crazy Hair Day, scheduled a shorter prep time breakfast that morning in order to give us more time to work on said crazy hair, and not because I shoved you out of bed to run to the bus stop with a Pop-Tart in your hand.
#EVERYTHING: I LOVE YOU. Your father and I decided that I would stay at home and take on the majority of the responsibilities of child-rearing, and that he would take on the majority of the responsibilities of employment and finances. My brain is freed from worrying about money and going to work, his brain is freed from worrying about whether your homework is in your backpacks, if dinner is ready, if your immunizations are up-to-date, if he has clean underwear, which hotel we’re staying in during our vacation, if someone can pick you up from school if you get sick, and all those other million little things that make focusing on a career incredibly difficult. (I actually think I got the better end of the bargain.) Yes, this does mean that I get to do lots of fun, crafty things while you are at school. No, it does not mean that I only do fun, crafty things while you are at school.
I spend a lot of time researching activities for you and our family, planning our food, taking care of our clothes, and way too much time cleaning and organizing our belongings. My back pain means that I’m super slow at the cleaning and organizing parts now…so yeah, my time is spoken for each and every day. Your health and safety are my biggest priorities, and that’s that. The food, clothing, and cleaning have to happen, and they all take up my time, which is why I get very, very upset when other people expect me to drop everything for their half-baked ideas that weren’t even important enough to THEMSELVES to adequately prepare for.
Having an idea isn’t the same thing as making something happen–it is the planning and execution (the actual WORK) of those plans that makes ideas happen, and there’s a finite limit on money, time, and energy. I have an overstuffed file folder of quilt IDEAS–just little pieces of paper with IDEAS for quilts to make. I have to decide which quilts and other creative projects I’m going to work on, or say “no” or “maybe later” to all the time. There is no possible way that I could work on every idea that pops into my brain each day–there’s not enough time to MAKE ALL THE QUILTS and still make dinner, fold the laundry, clean the toilets, and help your brother learn to read. The same is true of ideas about everything else–some ideas are worth making happen, some are worth filing away for another day, and some are just meant to be discarded.
It’s part of an adult’s job to decide what to say yes to, and what to say no to…and the first clue about how seriously I should be taking something is how it’s communicated to me. How I find out about something is all the information I have to work with sometimes, and our time is precious, so I heavily depend upon that information to begin deciding whether or not that event is worth saying “no” to something else in order to say “yes” to that event. It’s a tough choice most of the time, and I don’t like that part of my job. So, please, communicate the heck out of things to me so I can make decisions that will make us all happiest in the long run. I want to make all the happy things happen, but I cannot do that if I am not aware of the happy things ahead of time to an extent that I can feasibly move around the other happy stuff that’s already scheduled.
Remember: #EVERYTHING: I LOVE YOU. You are my happy things.