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Why I Stopped Saying "Sorry" as a Mom (and Started Saying "No")

Last week two school emails landed in my inbox. One asked for volunteers for a PTA event. The other invited my younger son to a bowling alley birthday party for a classmate he barely knew.

I stared at those emails. I sighed at those emails. And then I drafted replies in my head.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t sign up to help at the PTA event,” I thought about writing. “My sons have autism and learning and attention issues. I work full-time, and my husband has to cobble together freelance gigs so we can afford food, clothes and medical co-pays. Any extra time we have has to be used to support the kids.”

And, "I'm sorry, but my son can't attend the birthday party," I said in my other imaginary note. "He'll have a tough time with the loud noises of bowling because of his sensory issues, and it will be hard for him socially since he doesn't know your son well."

But as I finished my mental drafts, I wondered why I was saying “sorry.”

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