The thing I go back to a lot as a new (Can I still say “New”? It’s been over a year now.) Stay-At-Home Mom is wondering if anyone’s life is better because of this situation. Are my kids better? Is my husband better? Is this situation in any way an improvement from before? Because – of course – if it’s not? Then I feel like a total failure.
It turns out I can never really answer that question confidently. I blame this on two things: 1) My horrible insecurities which keep me from recognizing value in work I do and 2) Spending 14 years saying my family was better off with me at work. It’s hard to undo a 14-year foundation in just over a year.
What I do know for sure is that my family’s world is better because of other Stay-At-Home Moms. This is something I’ve learned since last Spring when I started volunteering to help with the Seussical production at E’s high school. I found myself in awe over the amount of work done by volunteers. Some of them were Moms and Dads who also had jobs! But many were Stay-At-Home Moms, giving all of their days to this program.
Since then I’ve been open to more volunteering – Soccer Mom being my latest role. And each time I do I think about all of the things done for my family and my kids over the years by other Stay-At-Home Moms. Field trip chaperones, classroom party planners, and team Moms. I’ve been thinking a lot about how – maybe we do have villages raising children in some ways. I know that in the 14-years I worked or went to school I took advantage of hundreds of other parents, most of whom didn’t work outside the home.
So, I think I’ve been trying to say, “Thank you” lately. I’m doing a lot of volunteering lately and I hope that, in some way, this pays back all of the other volunteers in the past that made my family’s life better or easier. And maybe I’m also trying to Thank the volunteers helping my family today. The high school E goes to? Has – what seems at times – more parent volunteers helping in the main office than actual faculty and staff. Every coach at the ball field is a volunteer, and often also a working parent, which means I should thank them double.
I guess what I’ve done is, since I can’t seem to find validation in the work for my family, I’m trying to do it in the work I do for others. And I’m seeing how many others have been doing work for my family over the years. I don’t think I realized how many things that go on at the schools are run by volunteers before I started being one myself. I see several groups of parents at the high school when I go up for meetings. It’s not just the theater department that sustains itself on volunteers. It’s the band program, athletics, math teams…they all have parent volunteers organizing and planning and providing.
So…to all of you who who have helped other families by giving your time and efforts without any compensation? Thank you. If any of you have actually helped out my family in some way? Double Thanks. And if you are a volunteer who often doubts yourself in your home like I do? Know this…you ARE making a difference. And for that – I thank you. I think I went 14 years blind, just too busy to stop and see all of the others helping out around me. But now I see all of you, and I thank you for the help you give and the work you do. Thank you for being part of my village. I hope that my delayed efforts can help make yours better as well.
And to those of you who work full-time, raise small children, and manage to volunteer? Please tell me you have a house-cleaning service, a lawn-service and possibly an in-home chef. Or at least tell me you eat out a lot! And if you have/do none of those things? Please don’t talk to me. I’m already insecure enough. Super-heroes like you just make me want to jump off a bridge. But – Thanks for all you do! Even while you’re making me look bad!