Few things strengthen your "Nope!" muscles like motherhood. As a recovering people-pleaser, pre-motherhood me was starting to get better at setting boundaries and opting out of interpersonal drama, unprofessional nonsense, and other things that just didn't serve me well, but I still didn't quite have the hang of it. While every woman, mom or not, should master this skill, I've found that becoming a mom helps you stop taking other people's sh*t like little else.
I remember once, when I was pregnant with my son, I had spent an entire day traveling and handling work meetings, and someone asked me if I wanted to add an additional unpaid task to my schedule. I quickly said no, but the person came back, attempting to guilt trip me into changing my answer. I looked them straight in the eye and said, "My original answer stands. I don't have time or energy for that, and it's unfair of you to expect me to donate my time to you." The person looked shocked, clearly not accustomed to actually having people stand up to his pressure tactics.
While in the past I might have possibly tried to fabricate an excuse or some other way of declining while flattering his ego (or worse, agreed at my own expense), my pregnant ass was tired. My baby was using the energy I normally would have spent preserving his ego to make a kidney or something, and it just couldn't be helped. Plus, something in me recognized that if I dignified this request, I'd probably be on the hook for countless others. There's no reason I should have to spend more time and energy fending off those requests, or feel pressured to accept them, when I could just teach this person that what he's doing is actually unacceptable. (Also, consent much? In all areas of life, "No" should not be considered an invitation to convince me, thanks.)
When you're a mom (and this goes for all moms, whether your work inside or outside the home, whether you're a biological mom, an adoptive mom, a step mom, or any other kind of mom) you pretty much always have bigger fish to fry (and, probably, at least one kid who won't eat that fish because it "looks weird and is touching everything else on their plate"). Even if you wanted to mess around with somebody's foolishness, you really can't, for the following reasons:
Motherhood Forces You To Prioritize...
When you're running on the bare minimum of sleep, and have your own life plus the life of at least one other person to manage, you have to get ruthless with what stays on and what gets bumped off of your daily to-do list. Folks trying to load you up with extra conflict or bogus responsibilities get crossed off with the quickness. Can't even pretend to care about their mess.
...And Quickly Helps You See What's Most Important In Life
Moms are the best at prioritizing because we know what comes first: our families. Anything that's not helping us and our families live our best lives is just not something we can afford to deal with, so eventually we just don't.
You No Longer Have Time For Nonsense
A mom's day is full of moving parts. From waking up way earlier than we'd like until we finally win the fight for bedtime, our days are jam-packed. All of the rituals and routines we depend on to keep our lives moving in an at least somewhat orderly fashion leave very little time for the kind of BS we might more readily accommodate before having kids.
You Don't Have Energy For Nonsense, Either
Even if we wanted to indulge some of the BS other people are throwing out there, we don't have the energy. All that back-and-forth, all the little games to try and avoid just saying what needs to be said in the most direct possible terms? That all requires energy that our kids used up running into our beds after having a nightmare.
You Discover (Or Deepen) Your Sense Of Your Own Power
Because keeping little people alive is real power. Real talk: this one became especially big for me when dealing with men's nonsense. After giving birth, in every interaction I have with anyone, but especially dudes, there is this little part of me that is like, "Oh, you think you're more important and powerful than me? I make people and then bring them into the world like a f*cking badass. Back up and bow down."
You Discover (Or Deepen) Your Sense Of Your Own Value
Unfortunately, we live in a world that still tells girls and women that we are worth less, so it can be a struggle for many of us to know our worth. Thankfully, as we grow up many of us unlearn this, but it can still be hard to avoid sliding back into bad habits of settling for less, or accepting unacceptable treatment. Having someone else who sees you as the most important person in the world is a great reminder of how important you truly are.
You Consider How Your Kids Perceive Your Actions
Recognizing that our kids learn how people should treat each other by how they see us treating ourselves and how we let other people treat us, is another powerful reminder that our actions and inaction have consequences. Even in situations where I might have let something unacceptable slide beforehand, I damn sure won't if my kids are watching because I know I wouldn't want them to accept that for themselves.
Teaching Kids About Relationships Refreshes Basic Social Rules Adults Forget
Repeating the same lessons about sharing, fair play, honesty, waiting your turn, and so forth over and over again for little people makes it really hard not to notice when bigger people are falling short of these basic social norms. I've definitely found myself quoting playground dictates for grown-ass adults attempting to cheat me or drag me into their drama, just because it was fresh on my tongue and the simplest way to shut down the BS.
Handling Kids Every Day Hones Highly Relevant Anti-BS Skills
As a former teacher and current activist, I'm fond of reminding people that the playground is where we learn democracy. Playing with other people is how we learn that rules and norms are jointly created by people, and thus that they are subject to change if we feel they're unfair. Seeing kids "take their ball and go home" when someone else isn't playing fair reminds us that we can absolutely do the same, if much bigger people aren't being fair to us.
Your Mom Face Makes People Less Willing To Try You
Moms are tired, we are mighty, we are living and walking and breathing love for our little ones, and did I mention we are tired? Anyway, all of that is written alllllll over our faces. Most people even thinking about trying it end up taking one look at us and inevitably think, "Mmm, nope, not worth it. Lemme find another mark, 'cause I might not escape that one alive."