In January, when I made the weekly commitment to serve others, I stopped almost all volunteer activities at my kids’ school.
This might not be a big deal to some, but for me, the elementary school became my second home. In the past 7 years I’ve been a classroom helper, head pencil sharpener, field trip chaperone, reading group leader, library book-shelver, book fair coordinator, math group facilitator, and PTA member.
For three of those years, on the days I wasn’t volunteering at the school, I was substitute teaching. The school had been my life.
When I told my husband I wanted to expand my horizons and volunteer more in the community and then write about it, he sat down with me for a heart to heart.
“Andee,” he began gently. He needed to say this without being bossy. “There are only 24 hours in each day. You can’t do everything. Something has to give.”
I let most of my school responsibilities go. The place would survive without me. Our kids don’t attend a Title 1 school where parent helpers are scarce. Our school has so many parents wishing to volunteer that sometimes there are waiting lists. I stepped down and trusted my kids would do okay not seeing me on campus every day.
It’s been 22 weeks. They have not said one word about missing me at school.
My daughters have noticed the work I’m doing in the community. Every time I come home from volunteering, they want details of the experience. When my friend and I delivered lunches to the homeless, my kids begged to go along but I wouldn’t let them miss school. I had to promise we’d do it together this summer.
I just recently realized the impact of my experiment when my youngest brought home her latest essay:
I thought by adopting the “nature of a servant” I’d be more compassionate myself. I never guessed that it also might make me a better mom.