Monday, November 11, 2013

My Other Job

Carrie commented on my last post, about our school event, that those types of events and some PTO roles are like full-time jobs... I can't argue with her.

Last year I was technically one of the co-presidents of our school PTO. I say, "technically," because I was so busy with my paying full-time job, and keeping up with my family, that my co-president actually did about 90% of the work. This year I am trying to make up for lost time and working hard to level the burden - though she's knows better what she's doing so I fear she's still bearing the brunt of the load...

I try, really try, not to complain about being busy with PTO business. After all, taking on this volunteer role was a choice I made. I genuinely feel good about the work we do to support the teachers and students at our elementary school. I believe my presence in the school is good for my children. I think being involved in this work is helping me hone skills and make connections that may be beneficial in the future.

I think this level of volunteering, whether for a school or another organization, can also have some of the same frustrations that I have found in parenting. Often the work is sort of thankless, done with great time and effort behind the scenes and taken a little for granted. Every time something is finished you turn around to find a pile of next things waiting. There are pieces of it that you can put on the back-burner for a while but eventually that gets you in trouble, especially if there isn't someone else ready to jump in and pick up some of the slack. The amount of time I put in occasionally inconveniences other members of the family and, from time to time, has caused stress in our family relationships.

Matt and I always talk about taking these volunteer positions on a case-by-case basis and reevaluating each year. But there is also some pressure to continue, not because there is something so special about me that qualifies me for this job, but because I don't know who will step up to fill a vacancy. And it isn't that other people can't do it - tons of people could, but not many will.

The volunteer herd feels thinner than it was a few years ago when I started. Some who have given a great deal of their time have decided they need to step back, drawing clearer lines and saying, "No," more often. I respect that, I just hope we can find people to step up and fill those spots, big and small.

I just hope that each person will sort of step up to give what he or she can - all the help, big and small, is appreciated.

And it's only fair to acknowledge the jobs that other people do that I am not willing to take on right now: teaching religious education, coaching little kid sports teams, selling the spirit wear for our dance studio... It takes a village!

I am hoping to keep a sense of balance, bear in mind that volunteer hours don't entitle me to any special treatment, and be patient when I feel like there aren't enough people doing enough to help. We're all doing what we can, right?

P.S. I didn't remember NaBloPoMo until I was in bed last night, so we'll just count this post for yesterday?

1 comment:

Emily said...

This really resonates with me, as I've been thinking about the "volunteer herd" getting smaller. It's so true, and it feels as if there is a small group of parents who end up doing a large portion of the work (not just PTA, but like you said scouts, church teaching, coaching), and you would LOVE to say no, but then who would do it? And I've struggled this fall with feeling unappreciated, especially with Girl Scouts. I put SO many countless hours into that troop, and it can feel as if no one appreciates (or really knows) that time. But then I have to take a step back and remind myself why I am doing this - for the good of the kids, my own and others, and for the community, and society at large. It IS making a difference.