Keeping up with the Smiths.

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In the world of parenting, people are divided into two groups..
there are distinct lines of parenting we see in our social circles. I’m not talking about the have’s and the have-not’s.. I’m talking about the volunteer and the volunteer-not’s.

I have typically fallen into the category of volunteer. (or EXCESSIVE volunteering if you ask my family) I help.   Its what I do. I used to have a problem saying NO to people when they ask for help.
I also tend to befriend other people who help. They are the ones with me in the daily trenches.  We step up when asked… (sometimes even before we are asked).   We also try to outdo each other with our self sacrifice. We are the ones people know they can call on for help. BUT .. we are killing ourselves a little in the process.

Once upon a time.. I tried to save the world. I gave it my all, I was the one everyone tried to catch up to and I was EXHAUSTED… I was never home and I didn’t have quality time with my kids.  I prayed for guidance and for strength to let others take on the big events.

So, now I’m stepping back.   I’m turning down invitations to help out at PTO events. I’m offering to buy snacks rather than bake. I actually called out of a volunteer commitment last week, because I wasn’t feeling well!!!

There are times I worry that my grandchildren aren’t getting the full commitment that my kids got when they were growing up.  But, then again, my kids didn’t always get the full Mom they needed when they were growing up.   I was always out saving the world.

I have a friend, who makes me crazy. I only got to know her a few years ago when I  got custody of the grand-kids.   Her children are near the age of the two littles. When I first met her, she was on my committees, she was the newby and I guided her into the activities and encouraged her to take the lead on events. We talked the same volunteer language of scouts, school, band, and  faith.

Last week, while we were sitting at yet another meeting.  This time, she was the chair and she had an event coming up.   I ALMOST jumped to take it off her hands and to do it myself.  I held myself back.  I remembered.   I made my family a promise that I was going to step back from helping so much. I was going to let others step up and take the reigns. The problem is, despite everything I do, I am worried I am not doing enough and the others who volunteer will judge me for my lack of stamina.

And then I remembered.. THIS AIN’T MY FIRST RODEO.. I rode this bull until I was exhausted and now I’m on my second go round. Many of the friends I made when my daughter was growing up are now enjoying empty nests. My nest is still full.

It took me a long time to realize that although I COULD still keep up with the new parents at the school.. I don’t have to. I can find the happy medium between drop-and-go parent and martyrdom.

I enjoy my time with this crew while they are growing up. I am still helping save the world. I just have learned to say NO. I have learned to say I want to help, but I can’t. I will have the guilt of knowing someone else is stepping up to do too much, but I also know that I learned a lot about giving when I did that. I learned what it was to be compassionate and caring to those around me. I found joy in the giving. Now I can step aside and let someone else (maybe even two or three other people) find that joy.


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