Sunday, March 22, 2015

choosing my small patch

Something has been on my mind lately. As a mom I get a lot of emails, requests for my attention, time, money. I'm a simple person, and these requests often exasperate me. I don't want another email about a class offered by the school Occupational Therapist about reaching your dreams! Or another message about the next big school fundraiser, two months after the last big one. Holy cow, it's getting to be too much. I think the thing that I am sick and tired of in regards to technology is that I have to sift through the copious requests of me and my kids. I wish I could just say to school: Yes, I want to be involved, but pretty much that just means I want to help out in the classroom when I can (which isn't often right now with a child at home), and yes I would like to give a bit of money occasionally when I can afford it (which has been never recently), but I don't want you to try and make the school community into my replacement for church. I don't want to go to a bunch of extra outside of school activities. I don't want to meet at the park once a week. I want my kids to go to school and then come home. I want them to learn, to play, to make friends. And then I want them back. Why does this seem to be such a foreign and strange concept these days?

I don't want to have them participating in five million activities just for the sake of looking well-rounded. I do want them to be involved in things that catch their interest. I do want to encourage and develop their talents. But I don't want them to do that at the expense of spending time with their family. These children are not just fashionable accessories that we decided to have once we were financially in the clear. They belong to this home, to this family. They have work to do, lessons to learn, love to be surrounded with. 

It seems like these days that I have to fight for the right to just be a simple family. I remember when I was growing up that I took dance from a neighbor lady who had put mirrors in her garage. I walked to elementary school by myself and walked home with my brothers. When I got home I had a snack, did my homework, and then I played with either my siblings or some friends down the street. Then we had family dinner EVERY night together. We worked in the garden, we picked oranges, we had to help make and can salsa and jam and pickles. We had to spend most of Saturday running errands and going into the boring Home Depot or Joann's or Sam's Club. We had to wash the cars, clean our closets that NO ONE would ever see (and boy did I make sure my Mom knew about the injustice of that one). We had to find ways to entertain ourselves. My Mom didn't play with me. She was always available to me, but she was also busy doing her work around the house. If I got bored, she made sure we always knew there were plenty of chores we could do, and then we magically found things to do--worked every time. Don't get me wrong, I certainly didn't have an ideal childhood with nothing gone wrong, but my younger childhood years had a rhythm that seemed to make sense. We moved along at just the pace meant for us.

My Mom didn't have the phone ringing off the hook all of the time. She didn't have to answer emails and constant requests for her to do things. But she was busy without all of that! She still had to make appointments, get dinner on the table, devote time to her Church responsibilities, keep up with us four kids. School would ask her to come on field trips and that sort of thing, but we knew she had my little sister so it wasn't likely she could come. And somedays that made me feel sorta wistful, but I knew it was just life and it was okay. We would go to a school carnival once a year and get to buy cotton candy and do the cake walk (which Mom probably donated something to) and that was enough, and it was really great! I'm sure my Mom felt some pressure and guilt, but I am sure she would agree with me that it isn't the same as it is today.

These days, it's just one big rush to be the biggest, the best, the busiest, the smartest. Our kids should be building robots out of legos for their extra activities, or only eating vegetables thus no cotton candy carnivals. Parents should be taking endless self-help classes, and lamenting the state of parenting with other parents....all who are out taking the class instead of just being with their kids.

Listen, I'm not against improvement. I'm not against the occasional class. But when did society get to this point where I have to feel guilty for not living to be the most active and vocal member of the parent association? Where I feel weird when I go to my child's class market and everyone seems to know everyone else because they are doing all of the extra school activities on sundays?

Here's the bottom line that I have come up with for now. I have to pick my communities. I only have a very finite amount of time and energy (and I like to pontificate on it endlessly I know!). But folks, I guess I say it over and over on my blog because I wish I could just yell it loud enough for everyone to hear: My number one community will always be my family. My children and my husband, and then my extended family. They will always be first. And not just first, but probably about 96% of my time and effort is spent on that one area. So that leaves me 4% to focus on all of the other areas that I care about--Church being next, and then school and the rest behind there. I think as we become a more secular society, and that being religious becomes more of a hiss and byword, people have a hole in their lives that doesn't supply that community for them anymore. So they build up their hopes for these school and sport and other extracurricular activities to create these sorts of connections. And when I get there as an extreme part-timer, I'm becoming more of the odd man out.

And really, although it's uncomfortable for me to feel that way, I just need to remember that I have made the choice to invest myself in the areas that I consider to be more lastingly important. I guess I just wish I wasn't made to feel guilty and strange about it every time I log in to my email or facebook or get a text message which I can't respond to right away.

I don't have any big last word on this to finish up my blog post neatly. I wish sometimes for the days before now, but I think God put me here in this time because He knew that would be a living beating truth in my heart. And there needs to be more folks out there wishing and trying to create the same things in their lives. Because all of this other rubbish is too much and just asking and taking and asking for more and I fear it will bleed us dry and leave us nothing left for the 96% that's supposed to be at the center.

Do you get what I mean? I wish I could say it the way I feel it! I wish I could tune the rest out and not at the expense of being unreachable to those I want to be available for when they need me. It's a hard one.


Kelly said...

I know what you mean! I feel like work expects me to be all about work 96% of the time and everythi g else 4%. I'm often having to proclaim how it really is. Family is the reason I do anything else.

Bryan said...

I feel like your words echo my feelings. I like to read your blog because it helps me hear my own thoughts. Wish you lived closer.

luvnmy10 said...

Amen. As for the extracurricular activities to "round out your kids", I always tell my kids the most important team they belong to is the Dimmick Team. Learn how to play well and nicely there and you'll go far. All the other stuff is clutter, static in the radio. Btw the pictures in this post are gorgeous!

Dee in BC said...

so true.. Especially with working outside the home as well. Now here in Canada I am seeing things move towards this stupid 24/7 mentality-I work in insurance. For the last 400 or so years people managed to insure what they needed to without us being open on Sundays & holidays. In Canada, way back when statutory holidays were decided everything was closed on Sunday. I am not appreciating the fact that Easter Sunday is not therefor a statutory holiday & I am now stuck working it instead of spending my time with my family & church. I am so overjoyed to try o meet the increasing demands of what I see as a ME first - Right now, spoiled brat generation.