Please tell me that I am not alone. How many of you are like me? Overextended, spread too thin and at wit’s end, with no one to blame but yourself.
I feel that I’m in a constant state of craze. I always have 1,001 things hanging over my head, my scheduling is so tight that my “cushion” is a 10 second window and my typical grocery shopping trip is literally a pitstop to the local Market Basket to grab some eggs, fruit and perhaps a pot pie to throw in the oven (my kids love their pot pies…the Shepherd’s pie is also very tasty).
My family has since learned that dinner can range from home-cooked Chinese fare to cereal out of a box, but usually it’s something in between that's slightly decent and barely warm. Due to extra-curricular activities, homework and work itself, it is rare that we all get to sit down and enjoy a family dinner together. Is this how it is in your home?
Life used to be so different. I used to sit back and relax, chat with friends, enjoy some tea while I writing poetry in my notebook. My daughter would play with her toys while baby Mozart played in the background. Now, I tell my friends we’ll try to get together when things calm down (which will never happen), I’m frantically scooting across Bergen County, scribbling in my calendar so I don’t forget a meeting or a task, while listening to my kids tease each other in the back of the car.
So, how did this all start? Well, eight years ago, when we moved into town, I did not know a soul. I wanted to meet people, so, once my daughter started her first year at Colonial Road School, I decided to get involved.
I signed up for anything and everything (this is what a newbie mom does). Crafts? Sure, I’ll do it. Help out with Brownies? No problem, I have the time. Party decorations? I can go and get them, don’t worry. Library? Pizza? PTA? Ok, sign me up. Whatever you need…I can help. (Did you do this too or was I the only crazy one?)
So, here I was, my first year as a district mom, walking up to the school in my Medusa costume carrying a haunted house, a cauldron and trying to balance a medley of other stuff for a class party, and thinking to myself… “This is what the other mom’s do, so suck it up.”
By the end of the school year I signed my life away…a new trustee to the Education Foundation, class mom, PTA assembly coordinator, part-time Pharmacist, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and a baby on the way…no problem at all, easy as pie, right? Talk about being delusional. Good thing I’m a pharmacist.
My calendar was soon filled. The monthly pages were splattered with a dizzying array of colored ink, each representing a meeting or an event that I had volunteered to help out at. My calendar was and still is my life, and if it’s not in there, then it’s not happening.
All the volunteer work, team practices, homework, play dates, continuing education courses, housework and the fact that the kids are getting older can be — and has been — overwhelming at times.
My house looks like a battlefield, despite my efforts to keep it clean. As for the children, lately, I find myself running to pick them up, only to realize (after waiting in a horrendously long pickup line) that they are supposed to stay after school for art. I take them home when they are supposed to be at Karate or Ballet. I schedule meetings forgetting that I need to drive my oldest to Washington Township (something I do practically every day) and I agree to play dates when they are supposed to be home for their weekly Chinese or guitar lessons.
What is wrong with me? Am I getting older? Perhaps senility is setting in….Nah, I still have a few more years before that happens. I really think that it’s because I have much too much on my plate. Am I the only one?
This inability to say “no” has definitely prolonged my retirement from the volunteering track, and it’s not getting any better. Even with the warning signs of forgotten activities and wrong pick up times, I am still heavily involved with the schools and I have now successfully volunteered what little time I have left to making the world greener and to helping those most in need in rural China.
Hello, my name if Jules and I am a Volunteer Junkie…why can’t I say “NO!” Can you?
* This is an article that I wrote for an online news site