say yes

This post isn’t for me.

It might be for you. I don’t know. You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

In the time I’ve been a mother, I’ve also been: a soccer coach, a cub scout den leader, a choir director, a Sunday School teacher, a blogger, a podcaster, and a classroom volunteer. I’ve been on the receiving end of so many emails asking the question “CAN YOU HELP?!” and, over and over, I’ve said yes. I’ve said yes because no one else has said yes. There have been instances where I tried so hard to not say yes, but after the fourth or fifth cry of “PLEASE! WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS,” I have succumbed. Yes. Yes. Sign me up. Yes. I can help. Yes. Yes. Yes.

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Here I am, your fearless Cub Scout leader who 100% know what she’s doing!

 

I’m tired of saying yes.

This post isn’t for me.

I realize that I am privileged to hold a special position in today’s world: I am a stay-at-home-mom. My time and attention may often be demanded by little people, but they can demand and I can comply while I’m at home in pajamas. It is tiring, sure, but all of life is tiring; this is no exception. I have free time to visit classrooms, plan cub scout meetings, make fun after school snacks, and learn music for childrens church. And, if I’m being honest? I’m tired.

It surprises me little to know this was placed on my heart soon after my simplify post. God knows I’m quick to volunteer, especially if no one else is raising their hand. He also knows that for a few moments after saying “yes,” my head is filled with completely unrealistic expectations regarding how my new undertaking will affect the rest of my life.

OK. Before I get too far into how my own commitments overwhelm, hear this. I love helping. I love being able to help. I love knowing that I am the reason kids get to experience some club or sport or activity. I love going to sleep at the end of a busy day, worn out but satisfied.

But I worry about the example I set.

I worry my kids are seeing me step up because I don’t trust that someone else will.

I worry my kids will have a hard time finding a network of trustworthy non-related adults, since the adult leaders they so often encounter are… mom.

I worry they’ll be bad storytellers because I don’t need to ask many details about their extracurricular activities — I’m always there.

But sometimes? I think I worry that if I don’t volunteer now, I will lose the precious time of my children’s youth. That I will send them off to activities and, before I know it, I’ll send them off to college. Without me.

Ah, but it takes a village, God reminds me, and everyone gets a turn to lead it.

I want my children to meet new people. I want them to learn about the different ways people do things. I want their beliefs challenged so they are forced to ask questions which will shape the foundations of who they are. This can only happen if they see other people.

This can only happen if they see you.

And so. As I said at the beginning — you will have to decide for yourself if you can say yes more often. I know you’re busy. I know you have many things in your planner and on your phone. You can’t say yes to everything. Neither can I, though I want to. So say yes. Bring your voice to the conversation that our children are having. Don’t just do it for your kids — do it for mine. I’ll return the favor.

school days and the introverted mom  

I love you, people. I do.

I just want you to… go away. Sometimes! I just want you to go away sometimes. It would be helpful if I could control everyone’s proximity to me, actually. Like, right now, I’m a party of one in a sushi restaurant typing and drinking tea. It’s beautiful, and I love being alone, but I wouldn’t mind if a friend walked in right now and sat down. There are other times when I am sitting alone and can’t silently plead with my eyes enough for anyone nearby to please just stay away. This isn’t because I’m a terrible person (at least, that’s what I tell myself).

It’s because I’m an introvert.

I love people, but being around them for too long is exhausting. I can’t begin to explain how my energy takes a toll when I’m around people, even my best friends and family. I know that I need to have regular periods of time where I can recharge by myself or I’ll get cranky and tired. 

To sum up: group projects aren’t my jam. To make it through the group project that is life, I have to guard my time carefully. I spend A LOT of time with the little people I created. At the end of the day, I usually need to unwind instead of running off to meet friends or attend to other responsibilities outside of the house.

(That’s not to say I never do these things. I just don’t constantly do them.) 

When Boone started kindergarten, I knew I had to make a plan for the kind of “school mom” I’d be. This led me to create the following list, so fellow introvert-mamas, buckle up! This one’s for you. (Extrovert mamas, keep on doing you. Thanks for visiting the classroom and working on the playground while I throw Starbucks gift cards at the teachers and send the occasional encouraging email. But hey, extro-moms, maybe keep reading anyway so you see how the rest of us feel about things? Thanks; you’re the best.)

Jonah’s an introvert, but he is also a toddler, so he does not have to be polite about reaching his people limit.

1. FACEBOOK.

Mamas, let Facebook be your friend. I’m not saying immediately friend your child’s teacher (you’ll both want a semi-safe space on the Internet), but I am saying expand your friends list to include fellow moms in your chid’s class. Before we started this journey called school, all of Boone’s friends were essentially the children of my friends. Oh sure, we’d play up the kid-friendship so they wouldn’t think we were actually going to a play date for mommy. I knew my friends well, and we usually had pretty similar parenting styles, so I never felt like they were judging how I did something. Once school began, however, new names entered the friends list. There’s every chance these names will stick around for a long time. (I mean, I met my husband during my school journey, so I generally think long-term.) 

Facebook is a great way for introverts to connect with the world. While in person I may occasionally come across as bored or awkward or tired or aloof, I can proof-read comments on Facebook. I can learn real things about people that won’t naturally come up in first conversations. I’m not the queen of small talk. I need real content or I start making bad jokes. It’s only fun for a little while, and then it just seems sad.

2. DO WHAT YOU CAN.

So you want to help in the classroom but the thought of being surrounded by 20-something kids who all have needs and stories sounds awful? Email the teacher and ask if she has any paperwork you can do, extra school supplies you can buy, or basically anything you can do by yourself and drop off later. There’s a reason why this world is divided into extroverts and introverts — somebody needs to listen to all of the kid-stories, and somebody else needs to run the copy machine.

3. GIFTS NEVER HURT ANYBODY.

OK, before you think I buy friendships, hear me out. I’m not talking about a weekly delivery of a dozen roses sent right into your child’s classroom. That… could potentially send the wrong message. I’m talking about the occasional $5 gift card to Starbucks with a note that says “You’re amazing… and probably tired; get some coffee.” The gift doesn’t have to be a tangible thing, either; a quick email with a cute story your child told you about school would also spread some joy. Teachers get a LOT of emails everyday. Between district requirements, classroom issues, school functions, and probably a million spam emails from fundraising companies, a real, brief, heartfelt note could really brighten a day.

4. STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

Last year I helped plan an “Elegant Kindergarten Graduation Event.” I stopped for iced coffee on my way to planning meetings and psyched myself up in my car before hand. You can do this… You are a valuable member of this team… Team work makes the dream work. And it did! The small group of event planners pulled off a wonderful experience for the kids and their parents. Some planners played bigger roles than others, but in the end, everyone did what they could and the event was a success.

5. GRACE.

Give grace to every teacher, every student, every office worker, every janitor, every lunch attendant, every parent, just everyone that you come across. We all know everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about, so give grace so freely. The mom you think is rude could be having a rough season. The dad who misses school events could be working overtime to provide for his family. The mom who stands quietly in the background (hey) could be a great friend when she relaxes a bit and stops trying too hard to make a relevant and hilarious joke about essentially anything.

Boone is an extrovert who needs people so much, he’ll befriend store mannequins if that’s all that is available.

Happy school year, moms and dads. Whether you parent a school lover, a school hater, or a school-indifferenter, I hope this is your best year yet. And if it isn’t, let’s go get coffee or wine and chat about it.

Just please let’s be done when I want to be done.

I’ll have some sort of signal so I don’t seem rude. 

I’ll tug on my left ear and you’ll say “BOY, I AM TIRED NOW, BETTER GET GOING.”

Thanks. 

You’re a peach.

Really.