I wish that mothers were allowed to just be mothers. I wish that we didn’t get dozens of requests for help each month.
I’m not saying that I don’t want to help out my friends or family when they need it – I just wish that my church wasn’t constantly asking me to help with things.
Is this way out in left field? An unreasonable thing to ask?
This comes on the heels of another request; one more I’ve had to say no to, because I literally start to lose my mind when I’m over-committed. Over-committment at the moment means pretty much anything outside my own home. Maybe there are women who stay home with their kids who feel they can handle five different monthly volunteer activities, but right now, I don’t even want to work in the nursery! Isn’t that what teenage girls are for? That’s what I did as a teenager, anyway.
Growing up, nurseries and Sunday schools were primarily staffed by women over the age of sixty or girls under twenty. That’s just the way it was. Now it seems my fellow stay-at-home moms and I are being asked all the time to do these things and more.
I have one committment to the church at the moment that was born from my own heart – ladies craft days. It was an idea I believe came straight from God as a way to bring women of all ages together for fellowship. I haven’t done one since last year because of my pregnancy but they will start up again in October and hopefully run every other month until summer. It’s one Saturday each month we meet, held at the church, and the only thing I have to do is plan the date with the church, show up a bit early to unlock and make coffee, and stay all day crafting to close up in the afternoon. It’s fun for me and not a whole lot of work, especially if I have some help. When I was asked to write a report for 2009 regarding my involvement with these craft days, I stated that I wanted to continue but would not if I didn’t have someone helping me each month. Within a week of the report coming out, I had a volunteer. That’s right – I made my need known, and someone who felt it was a good match for her VOLUNTEERED.
If only it worked that way all the time! Sadly our church is very short on volunteers – we do great with financial giving but seem to lack with the giving of time. If I didn’t have children at home, I would be volunteering for at least a few weekly activities. As it is, my kids take up as much time as I have – even if I have some free hours each night and weekend, I need those hours to stay sane and avoid depression. If I volunteer for something, it means I want to do it. If I’m asked and have to say no, I feel guilty. Should I feel guilty? Not unless I’m ignoring God’s voice in the matter if He specifically leads me to help out.
During our vacation Bible school this summer, I volunteered to help with registration. The job required me to get there a bit early and leave within half an hour of the start of VBS. Ben was only two months old, but the amount of time was reasonable for me – leave Ben and Erik in the nursery, Jenny and Elias go to VBS, I stay until nine-thirty and then take the boys out somewhere or home until noon. Halfway through the week, my sister-in-law had surgery. She was in charge of one part of VBS that required staying the whole time. She couldn’t be there the day of the surgery and we had no idea whether she would be back the following two days. She asked if I would take over for her in addition to my job. I told her that I would if they absolutely couldn’t find anyone, but it soon became clear that this was as good as saying, “yes.” Eventually I saw what would happen if I did volunteer myself for this job – I would get pulled into something else just because I was there. That’s just the way it is.
It’s no wonder that so many stay-at-home moms seem to burn out so easily. Our children (whether we have one or a dozen) wear us out. They are rewarding, but then, they are our children. Aside from ministries and activities that we felt drawn to or led to help with, why should we feel as though we have to be involved with so many things outside our home?
I know that there are some who would completely disagree with me. I’m guessing that not many stay-at-home moms would, though. Particularly not those with preschool children and babies. We are at a unique stage in our lives – wiping noses, changing diapers and nursing babies – and we should be allowed to enjoy this stage as best we can without additional demands from outside our homes. Yes, I’d love a break now and again from the monotony of child-rearing (yikes – is that a terrible thing to admit to? Check out my friend Stephanie‘s ideas on this), but I don’t necessarily want that break in the form of volunteer activities.
This is my opinion. This issue is not black and white and is subject to the personalities of different women. Some will feel that volunteering within the church is a necessity regardless of the stage of life one is in. Some will feel that personally, they enjoy volunteering and even being asked for help from their church. I would just rather have the option of volunteering my own time and not being asked. What if the rule was not to ask people to help when they are home with their kids? I suspect that a lot of women would feel a lot less unneccessary guilt if this were the case.