Saturday, December 06, 2008

You want me to what?

Bella's school is threatening to start mandatory parent volunteer hours, and while I understand why, I'm kind of bummed. I am one of the school's girl scout leaders, so hopefully that counts for something, but the thought of trying to eke out more time to spend somewhere other than with my kids just wears me out. How do people do it?

So, out of guilt....oops, I mean, a burning desire to help, I agreed to sell scrip cards to parishioners after mass. Sigh. I was very up-front about the whole thing, though - I said that I am on my own with the two kids (one of whom is a ten-month old boy), so I will have to be selling with both kids (did I mention one of them is a ten-month old boy?), and that there might be days where I am late or sick, and that I would like to be able to re-consider at some point if it seems like it isn't working out (probably because of the ten-month old boy). That might sound terrible, but I have learned the hard way that I have to be completely upfront, open and honest about things like this, otherwise people's expectations exceed my abilities, not to mention my availability. I'm sorry, I want to do what I can for Bella's school, I think it is a great school, but there is only so much time I'm willing to dedicate away from my family.

Last year I was asked to help out with the annual school fun run, and when I told the woman that I was only available after 5PM because of my job, she actually bristled and said, "Help can't always be on your terms". Hmm, that's true, but help doesn't pay my bills, and my job does. And if I don't have a job, I can't pay what I pay (including the annual tuition increases!) to send my daughter to school here. Sigh. I'm so bitter. It's not that I don't want to help, it's that I can't think of a way I can help that doesn't involve me missing out on time with my kids, time that is rare already because of my job. I guess I'm searching for that elusive balance everyone seems to be looking for. If anyone finds that, let me know.

Have a good weekend!


Aimee said...

This is a tough issue -esp. for parents who work outside of the home, like you. I know my husband would like to help more at school, but he runs into the same problem. I don't know how you do as much as you do.

A friend of mine has kids in a private school , and they have mandatory vol. hours or they get money added onto their tuition!

Our school hasn't gone to mandatory vol. hours, but we do have trouble sometimes finding people to help. The same people always seem to be the ones to show up, but luckily we still have a lot of them.

It sounds like you are already pretty involved in Bella's school (more than some of the people from my kids classes!), and I don't think there is anything wrong with telling people what you can and cannot do from the beginning. I do the same thing, since I am usually at school functions with Sally and Bun.

Laura said...

Wow. I have so much to say on this because I feel like I need to set boundaries all the time when I want to be helpful. I have learned great lessons about myself...and not in easy ways.
Once I told a woman I would like to help her get to and from work while she looked for a new car.
To and from
To and from
To and from
It went on for 4 months until I had a melt down.
I should have said that I would help her for a month or so (then if I felt like I could do more...I would.) I ended up resenting having to mold my days around her.
I didn't set limits.
The time you have now is for your children...if you need to set boundaries for volunteering then you should. Later in your life you can be little miss joiner...but you can't now.
That lady was resenting your sure-footedness when she gave you a chilly response.
Oh well.
You know your priorities and limits.
Too bad many people don't.